Would You Know If You Had A Pulmonary Embolism?

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I need to know some things about it as I have a horrendous fear of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms.

I'm 30, female, Hypthyroid (medicated), don't drink, never smoked, sedentary lifestyle (work at home but do go for a half hour walk, and do house chores and get up every so often to move about). Suffer with anxiety and depression, and I'm on Propranolol 80mg slow release (they are a beta blocker) for my anxiety. (NOT on any Contraceptive pill in many years)

Anyway, the last week I've felt a little short of breath, a little restricted in my upper chest area and throat. Not as bad this week, eased up a bit, gets worse when I'm stressed or anxious, just tightens up my chest and back shoulder blades. I don't get chest pains or anything, I just get aches and pains all over, but nothing severe or painful or debilitating. It' really only my back left shoulder blade that aches and is tender, but had that for months.

I've had blood tests regularly last few months for many things as I suffer with IBS, I also had about 5 ECG's in the last 7 months, last one being 2 months ago. A month ago I had a 24hr heart monitor as well, so not sure if any of that counts. I also have an Oximeter and my daily readings of SPo2 are 96-99% (if that means anything).

I also seen my doctor last Wednesday about my shortness of breath, that it just felt tight and restricted, but not to the point where I couldn't take a deep breath in or that is was a struggle to do anything with it. It mostly occurred at night, and when something was very stressful it would flare up slightly. He checked my chest and back with a stethoscope, said it sounded fine, and checked my blood pressure which was also fine. My temperature is normal from what I can tell at 97.7-98.0.

I have a terrible fear of blood clots and I'm really scared about Pulmonary Embolisms, and I wanted to ask somewhere about my breathing, I'm frightened it could be a PE?

Am I at risk?

Is this a Pulmonary Embolism?

Anyone had one and what were the symptoms?

Risk factors?

I'm very scared and very anxious about the whole thing, and because I have such severe healthy anxiety (enough that I'm on Beta Blockers), blood clots and PE's terrify me or that I might have one, and I went on Google and searched it, and read all the horrifying stories related to it, so now I've made myself worse doing that but thought I'd ask here to see if it may be more of a calmer place to ask. Sorry for asking again. Just want to ask questions, gather information, maybe help in some way.

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7 Replies

  • Posted

    God that’s awful! Best to checked just to be on the safe side! 

    I developed a pain in my left shoulder that felt muscular but then I started getting major stabbing pains in my left side, back, shoulder, chest and neck. But I tried to sleep/rest it off for 3 days before I was rushed to hospital! I’m only 29 years old so I never imagined it to be a pulmonary embolism 

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  • Posted

    Brigidcooley,

    What has made you think you may have blood clots, have you had them before or know someone with them? Until I had mine in June I had never given them thought and I am a nervous person. As you have been told you are clear I would believe them.

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    • Posted

      I think because my dad had a heart attack that was caused by an embolism to the brain (he was over 65 at the time and he is still alive by the way. It happened 6 years ago). But he did have angina years ago and never took medication for it so not sure if that contributed to what happened later. But mum just said it was like him being pulled to one side and turned like a grey colour, so since then I've been super paranoid and scared about them, because as someone with my condition shouldn't do, went to Google, and read everything related to Pulmonary Embolisms and Blood clots.So I'm always worried.

      I've never had one before, only my dad, but that's it. It's just the thoughts of getting chest pains or shortness or breath of any kind, instantly that is my first thought, and what if, what if's. Sorry to hear you had one by the way, but glad you're ok! 

      Getting comments like the one above yours doesn't help really when it's very scare tactical (not sure if it was meant to cause fear but it did).

      Thanks for replying.

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    • Posted

      Hmm this is a difficult one, trying to soothe someone  with anxiety such as yours is near impossible - I know as I suffer too. May I first suggest staying off the internet / googling any  symptoms - you will only come across worse case scenarios and probably find yourself even more anxious than before. I am recovering from multiple PEs - I collapsed struggling to breathe two months ago and before that I had no symptoms. I am 33 years old, fit and would never have dreamed it would happen to me. The nurses all told me how lucky I was as most people don’t even get symptoms when it comes to this kind of thing - unfortunately your dads was a heart attack but very positive that he made it through. It’s easy for me to tell you to stop panicking but I know it won’t help you, the best thing I can do is hit you with some facts. Most people who fall in the high risk categories are the following - have just had surgery, have high BP, overweight, on the pill, cancer patient, long haul flight, bed bound and immobile or have a clotting disease or over 40. I don’t know the specifics with your dad, all I can say is he was in his sixties which puts him in a risk category - did he have any other risks that I mentioned? I also want to assure you that not everyone with the associated risks will get a blood clot - someone people will and others get lucky. It just sounds like to me that you’ve scared yourself by going on the internet and now have created a stuck thought. You’ve also watched your dad suffer so it’s understandable. I also know that when you have heightened anxiety that it’s easy to create symptoms and not being able to differentiate from the mind and the physical. It sounds like you could do with some CBT, I’m having to be treated for it at the moment as the clots were a terrible shock and my mind broke down and couldn’t process what happened to me. You need help in retraining your thoughts and learning how to asses things logically, it’s such a nightmare to constantly be anxious and really does drain you. The only other thing I can suggest is to take preventative measures if you feel it will help you, drinking water opens up the veins but don’t exceed the recommended intake otherwise it can make you worse. Don’t sit still for more than 90 mins at a time and if you can’t get up then do some leg exercises to keep the blood flowing, keep your weight down and your BP. Stay active - swimming and walking are the ones that will really help. Wear those tight socks on flights and above all try to stay calm. Ask yourself if worrying about it will benefit you in anyway? Go get yourself a medical and then move on with your life, I hope you can put this behind you and please stop googling! 
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    • Posted

      PS you have a good BP - much better than mine and your dr has listened to your chest. Stop stressing. 
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    • Posted

      I agree with Elizabeth.

      I have suffered a health related anxiety and panic attacks for 30 years after my Dad died suddenly (stroke), so I know the feeling and all the patterns that you have mentioned. In addition I suffered a multiple bilateral PE exactly a year ago, following a bad skiing accident that made me immobile. I didn't have much shortness of breath, or if I did I contributed it to the fact that I have to hop on one leg when moving around the house. My only symptom was w really bad neulargia type pain in my right rib cage, that prevented my from breathing in properly. As it turned out I was also suffering from pneumonia at the time, so the pain might have been related to that. I had two DVTs in my injured leg, but I didn't have any symptoms typical for DVT either.

      So as you see my symptoms were nothing like what you are experiencing now. Personally I think that what you have is more anxiety related that PE.

      You are not in the risk group according to the factors that Elizabeth has mentioned, but some people can have blood clots due to the genetic clotting disorders, like Factor V Leiden. If you want to be sure, you could ask your doctor whether you could have them done. There are few of them.

      Otherwise, I suggest you concentrate on treating your anxiety, because it seems it's not under control. Now you worry about PE, but this might turn into worrying about heart attack, cancer, or fear of any other disease. I suggest CBT to take control of your thoughts. Also talk to your psychiatrist, because propranolol may not be good for you, and maybe you should take some antidepressants. I have been on SSRI for years and it made a huge difference how I perceived my health. Even having a fairly bad PE has not impacted me much mentally or psychologically, which I heard is a pretty common issue with those that have experienced PE. I stayed cool as a cucumber, which I think may have contributed to my fairly good recovery :-).

      All the best and take care! I know that anxiety can be very unpleasant and draining, but there is hope :-).

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