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Autoimmune Disease Patients at Higher Risk for Pulmonary Embolism

By Elaine Moore on 5/7/2012

Swedish researchers have found that all autoimmune disorders increase risk for pulmonary embolism, which means a blood clot in the lungs caused by a hypercoagulation defect. Certain autoimmune disorders have a much higher risk than others, and these include

  • immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • polymyositis
  • dermatomyositis
  • polyarteritis nodosa

Fortunately, the risk decreases one year after diagnosis although an increased risk can persist for up to ten years. Pulmonary embolism can easily be diagnosed with a blood test for quantitative D-dimer, a test run almost exclusively on emergency room patients.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. The pain is classically sharp and worsens when taking a deep breath, often called pleuritic pain or pleurisy. There may be cough that produces bloody sputum.

The patient may have stable vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation) but frequently presents with an elevated heart rate. A severe pulmonary embolus can present with shock, low blood pressure and cardiac arrest.


Autoimmune patients have higher pulmonary embolism risk, say researchers., Dec 4, 2011


Autoimmune diseases
pulmonary embolism

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