BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPulmonary embolusVenous thromboembolism; Lung blood clot; Blood clot - lung; Embolus; Tumor embolus; Embolism - pulmonary; DVT - pulmonary embolism; Thrombosis - pulmonary embolism; Pulmonary thromboembolism; PEA pulmonary embolus is a blockage of an artery in the lungs. The most common cause of the blockage is a blood clot.Blood clotBlood clots are clumps that occur when blood hardens from a liquid to a solid. A blood clot that forms inside one of your veins or arteries is calle...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Causes A pulmonary embolus is most often caused by a blood clot that develops in a vein outside the lungs. The most common blood clot is one in a deep vein of the thigh or in the pelvis (hip area). This type of clot is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs where it lodges.Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body. It mainly affects the large ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Less common causes include air bubbles, fat droplets, amniotic fluid, or clumps of parasites or tumor cells.You are more likely to get this condition if you or your family has a history of blood clots or certain clotting disorders. A pulmonary embolus may occur:After childbirth After heart attack, heart surgery, or stroke After severe injuries, burns, or fractures of the hips or thigh bone After surgery, most commonly bone, joint, or brain surgery During or after a long plane or car ride If you have cancer If you take birth control pills or estrogen therapy Long-term bed rest or staying in one position for a long timeDisorders that may lead to blood clots include:Diseases of the immune system that make it harder for the blood to clot. Harder for the blood to clotAntiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disorder that involves frequent blood clots (thromboses). When you have this condition, your body's...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Inherited disorders that make the blood more likely to clot. One such disorder is antithrombin III deficiency.Antithrombin III deficiencyCongenital antithrombin III deficiency is a genetic disorder that causes the blood to clot more than normal.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Symptoms Main symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pain that may be any of the following:Under the breastbone or on one side Sharp or stabbing Burning, aching, or a dull, heavy sensation Often gets worse with deep breathing You may bend over or hold your chest in response to the painOther symptoms may include:Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting Low oxygen level in blood (hypoxemia) Fast breathing or wheezing Fast heart rate Feeling anxious Leg pain, redness, or swelling Low blood pressure Sudden cough, possibly coughing up blood or bloody mucus Shortness of breath that starts suddenly during sleep or on exertion Low grade fever Bluish skin (cyanosis) -- less common Exams and Tests The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history.The following lab tests may be done to see how well your lungs are working:Arterial blood gases Blood gasesBlood gases are a measurement of how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in your blood. They also determine the acidity (pH) of your blood.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Pulse oximetryThe following imaging tests can help determine where the blood clot is located:CT angiogram of the chest Pulmonary ventilation/perfusion scan, also called a V/Q scan CT pulmonary angiogramCT pulmonary angiogramPulmonary angiography is a test to see how blood flows through the lung. Angiography is an imaging test that uses x-rays and a special dye to see in...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Other tests that may be done include:Chest CT scan D-dimer blood test D-dimer blood testD-dimer tests are used to check for blood clotting problems. Blood clots can cause health problems, such as:Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)Disseminated i...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Doppler ultrasound exam of the legs Doppler ultrasound exam of the legsThis test uses ultrasound to look at the blood flow in the large arteries and veins in the arms or legs.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Echocardiogram EchocardiogramAn echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. The picture and information it produces is more detailed than a s...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article ECGBlood tests may be done to check if you have an increased chance of blood clotting, including:Antiphospholipid antibodies Genetic testing to look for changes that make you more likely to develop blood clots Lupus anticoagulant Protein C and protein S levels Treatment A pulmonary embolus requires treatment right away. You may need to stay in the hospital:You will receive medicines to thin the blood and make it less likely your blood will form more clots. In cases of severe, life-threatening pulmonary embolism, treatment may involve dissolving the clot. This is called thrombolytic therapy. You will receive medicines to dissolve the clot.Whether or not you need to stay in the hospital, you will likely need to take medicines at home to thin the blood:You may be given pills to take or you may need to give yourself injections. Pills to takeWarfarin is a medicine that makes your blood less likely to form clots. It is important that you take warfarin exactly as you have been told. Chang...Read Article Now Book Mark Article For some medicines, you will need blood tests to monitor your dosage. How long you need to take these medicines depends mostly on the cause of your blood clot. Your provider will talk to you about the risk of bleeding problems when you take these medicines.If you cannot take blood thinners, your provider may suggest surgery to place a device called an inferior vena cava filter (IVC filter). This device is placed in the main vein in your belly. It keeps large clots from traveling into the blood vessels of the lungs. Sometimes, a temporary filter can be placed and removed later. Outlook (Prognosis) How well a person recovers from a pulmonary embolus can be hard to predict. It often depends on:What caused the problem in the first place (for example, cancer, major surgery, or an injury) The size of the blood clot in the lungs If the blood clot dissolves over timeSome people can develop long-term heart and lung problems.Death is possible in people with a severe pulmonary embolism. When to Contact a Medical Professional Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911), if you have symptoms of pulmonary embolus. Prevention Blood thinners may be prescribed to help prevent DVT in people at high risk, or those who are undergoing high-risk surgery.If you had a DVT, your provider will prescribe pressure stockings. Wear them as instructed. They will improve blood flow in your legs and reduce your risk for blood clots.Moving your legs often during long plane trips, car trips, and other situations in which you are sitting or lying down for long periods can also help prevent DVT. People at very high risk for blood clots may need shots of a blood thinner called heparin when they take a flight that lasts longer than 4 hours.Do not smoke. If you smoke, quit. Women who are taking estrogen must stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk of developing blood clots.Open ReferencesReferencesDavidson BL, Elliott CG. Pulmonary thromboembolism: prophylaxis and treatment. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 82.Goldhaber SZ, Piazza G. Pulmonary embolism. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 87.Kline JA. Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 78.Morris TA, Rose A. Pulmonary thromboembolism: presentation and diagnosis. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 81.AllVideoImagesTogLungs - illustration The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.LungsillustrationRespiratory system - illustration Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.Respiratory systemillustrationPulmonary embolus - illustration An embolus is a blockage of an artery in the lungs by fat, air, tumor tissue, or blood clot.Pulmonary embolusillustrationLungs - illustration The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.LungsillustrationRespiratory system - illustration Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.Respiratory systemillustrationPulmonary embolus - illustration An embolus is a blockage of an artery in the lungs by fat, air, tumor tissue, or blood clot.Pulmonary embolusillustrationRelated Information Deep vein thrombosis(Condition)Cancer(Condition)Stroke(Condition)Heart attack(Condition)Broken bone(Injury)Pulmonary hypertension(Condition)Taking warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) - what to ask your doctor(Doctor Questions)Taking warfarin (Coumadin)(Self-Care)Deep vein thrombosis - discharge(Discharge)Stroke(In-Depth)Heart attack and acute coronary syndrome(In-Depth) Review Date: 10/28/2021 Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. 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