What Is the Long-Term Effect of Blood Clots in the Lungs?

A blood clot in the lungs, or pulmonary embolism, can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and a bloody cough, explains WebMD. A clot left untreated could cause pleural effusion, which is a build-up of fluid in the cavity around the lungs, or a pulmonary infarction, which is tissue death in the lung. Multiple pulmonary embolisms can drastically reduce blood flow in the lungs and heart, which can eventually lead to heart failure or death.

Sitting for long periods of time, such as during travel or periods of inactivity due to illness or injury, can cause blood clots, notes MedicineNet. Smoking increases the chance of blood clots, as does being overweight. Accidents, certain surgeries, cancer and pregnancy can also increase the risk of blood clots.

The best treatment for pulmonary embolism is prevention, according to WebMD. Frequent walking breaks and drinking plenty of fluids decreases the risk of blood clots while traveling. Bedridden people can do exercises which move the blood through the legs and prevent clotting. People who have a high risk of blood clots may also talk to their doctors about medications to thin the blood and reduce clotting. Compression stockings decrease the risk of clots for people who have a history of clots or deep vein thrombosis.