Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism, or PE, is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. The blockage usually is caused by a blood clot that travels to the lung from a vein in the leg.

A clot that forms in one part of the body and travels in the bloodstream to another part of the body is called an embolus.

PE is a serious condition that can:

  • Damage part of your lung because of a lack of blood flow to your lung tissue. This damage may lead to pulmonary hypertension (increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries).
  • Cause low oxygen levels in your blood.
  • Damage other organs in your body because of a lack of oxygen.

If a blood clot is large, or if there are many clots, PE can cause death.

Symptoms:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Pain with deep breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rapid breathing and fast heart rate

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:

  • Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg
  • Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking
  • Increased warmth in the area of the leg that’s swollen or painful
  • Red or discolored skin on the leg

Treatment:

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is treated with medicines, procedures, and other therapies. The main goals of treating PE are to stop the blood clot from getting bigger and keep new clots from forming.

Treatment may include medicines to thin the blood and slow its ability to clot. If your symptoms are life threatening, your doctor may give you medicine to quickly dissolve the clot. Rarely, your doctor may use surgery or another procedure to remove the clot.

For More Information:  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pe/