Medical Q&As

Pulmonary embolism - smoking risk?

I developed pulmonary embolism following a hip replacement. I am now on warfarin and have my blood tested regularly to monitor the dose of warfarin being used. Lately I developed a pain on the left side of my back and was inclined to be breathless. I rushed to the hospital as I thought it was another clot. They did all the tests on me at the hospital including a chest x-ray and assured me that I was fine. I then went to my consultant who had me breathe into a machine. He diagnosed asthma from this and has given me an inhaler even though I am not coughing or bringing up phlegm. I gave up smoking when the clots were diagnosed over 2 months ago. Finally my question is did I develop asthma as a result of damage caused to my lung as a result of the clots?

It is not possible to give a clear-cut answer to your question because your history of cigarette smoking must also be factored in when considering the causes of your asthma. It is quite possible that you had mild chronic obstruction of your airways due to smoking that was present prior to the hip surgery. This could have been of minor degree and not causing you any apparent ill effects. The surgery and cigarette smoking then created the circumstances that put you at risk of developing a pulmonary embolism resulting in tipping of the balance in relation to your respiratory function. Once the pulmonary embolism occurred your lung function could then have been reduced to the point that an underlying mild chronic obstruction of the airways became overt. This became apparent to the consultant when he tested your peak flow with a spirometer, which is the machine you refer to in your question. I think that your asthma was multifactorial in origin rather than being due to the single event of pulmonary embolism.