Man suffers pulmonary embolism due to tight jeans, little movement; know what the condition is

A swollen leg and a blackout. That is how a fun drive ended for Saurabh Sharma who suffered pulmonary embolism — which is the presence of a clot in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs — two days after he returned from Rishikesh. He had passed out on the office staircase and his colleagues had to rush him to hospital in a critical condition. The doctors had to perform CPR to revive him.

“I was on my way to Rishikesh and wore tight denims. Since it was an automatic car, my left leg did not move at all. I was feeling the pain in my calves and knees but I ignored it. After two days, my leg was swollen and after reaching office, I suffered a blackout for five minutes, apart from breathlessness and sweating,” said Sharma, a resident of Pitampura.

According to Dr P Venkata Krishnan, internal medicine specialist at Paras Hospital Gurugram, the calf muscles in the body, which help in the movement of legs, pump back blood to heart when they contract. “This blood, after being low in oxygen, is sent to the lungs for oxygenation by the heart. However, if one is wearing very tight clothing, then this blood stagnates and clots are formed in the veins — which leads to DVT or deep vein thrombosis, the main cause of pulmonary embolism caused by entrapment of these clots in lung vessel ie. pulmonary artery.”

Pulmonary embolism is a condition where a clot is trapped in the vessels of pulmonary circulation. “The pathway in lungs for blood flow is very narrow, and if a clot is formed and trapped here, then it can lead to serious conditions,” he adds.

Dr Manjeetha Nath Das, internal medicine specialist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram says that “pulmonary embolism is more common in the elderly or people with medical complications who are unable to move. The condition is fatal as these clots get dislodged in the right side of the heart from where blood is pumped to the rest of the body.”

The common signs of DVT are swelling in the legs which is then examined through an ultrasound of Doppler. However, pulmonary embolism can be— mild and severe — which is usually based on the number and size of clots detected. “Difficulty in breathing, sudden onset of chest pain and coughing of blood are some symptoms one just should not ignore,” adds Dr Das.

Dr Krishnan says that DVT is common among people who have thick blood, say a smoker, as thick blood tends to clot much faster. “People who travel longer distances frequently can also experience the same as movement is restricted when you are on a flight,” he says.

So are tight-fitting clothes actually harmful to one’s health?

“They indeed are. If the cloth one is wearing is too tight, then it will not allow the muscles to contract and relax properly, which can lead to formation of toxic acids in the leg muscles. Tight-fitting clothes can even lead to Compartment Syndrome, torsion of testicles and also decrease sperm production in men,” says Dr Krishnan.

However, Dr Das points out that wearing tight-fitting clothes cannot be said to the prime reason for a person experiencing the same. “Tight-fitting clothes can lead to less blood circulation in the body; but other reasons like being immobile, dehydrated too contribute to the same,” he says.

Giving out a few tips, Dr Krishnan says that people should ideally not wear tight clothes, especially while sleeping, because the body’s mobility is restricted then. “If your work requires you to sit at one place for too long, then you should avoid wearing tight clothes. But if you do have to wear them, ensure that you keep taking breaks so that there is some movement in the body.”

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