A pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. The cause is usually a blood clot in the leg called a deep vein thrombosis that breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lung. Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition that can cause
- Permanent damage to the affected lung
- Low oxygen levels in your blood
- Damage to other organs in your body from not getting enough oxygen
If a clot is large, or if there are many clots, pulmonary embolism can cause death.
Half the people who have pulmonary embolism have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they can include shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing up blood. Symptoms of a blood clot include warmth, swelling, pain, tenderness and redness of the leg. The goal of treatment is to break up clots and help keep other clots from forming.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) / Pulmonary Embolism (PE) - Blood Clot Forming in a Vein (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Pulmonary Embolism (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Patient's Guide to Recovery After Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism (American Heart Association)
- Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia (American Heart Association) - PDF
- Rivaroxaban to Prevent Pulmonary Embolism after Hip or Knee Replacement (American Heart Association) - PDF
- Venous Thromboembolism and Marathon Athletes (American Heart Association) - PDF
- Genetics Home Reference: hereditary antithrombin deficiency (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: protein C deficiency (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: protein S deficiency (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Data and Statistics of DVT/PE (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Pulmonary Embolism (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Inferior Vena Cava Filters: Current Indications, Techniques, and Recommendations.
- Article: Pulmonary Embolism: Current Role of Catheter Treatment Options and Operative...
- Article: Evidence-Based Therapies for Pharmacologic Prevention and Treatment of Acute Deep...
- Pulmonary Embolism -- see more articles