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All about pulmonary embolism causes of pulmonary embolism risk factors for pulmonary embolism symptoms of pulmonary embolism diagnosis of pulmonary embolism treatment for pulmonary embolism prevention of pulmonary embolism

What is pulmonary embolism?

Pulmonary embolism is an obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs, usually due to a blood clot, which blocks a coronary artery. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot, generally a venous thrombus, becomes dislodged from its site of formation and embolizes to the arterial blood supply of one of the lungs, causing vascular obstruction and impaired gas


Pulmonary embolism is the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. Once the artery is blocked, usually by one or more blood clots, oxygen levels drop, and blood pressure in the lungs rises. Most blood clots originate in legs, but they can also form in the veins of your arms, the right side of heart or even at the tip of a catheter placed in a vein. In rare cases, other types of clots - such as globules of fat, air bubbles, tissue from a tumor or a clump of bacteria - also can lodge in your lungs' arteries. Smaller clots prevent adequate blood flow to the lungs, sometimes causing damage to lung tissue (infarction). Large clots that completely block blood flow can be fatal.

Pulmonary embolism can occur as a major complication of surgery, or in patients who are confined to bed, have cancer, severe varicose veins, phlebitis (inflammation of the wall of a vein), have suffered a recent heart attack or stroke, or have a chronic illness, such as congestive heart failure. Other factors that can increase the risk of blood clots include childbirth, obesity, a broken hip or leg, use of oral contraceptives, sickle cell anemia, blood clotting disorders, chest trauma, certain congenital heart defects, sitting for long periods of time, and old age.

More information on pulmonary embolism

What is pulmonary embolism? - Pulmonary embolism is an obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs, usually due to a blood clot, which blocks a coronary artery.
What causes pulmonary embolism? - The most common cause of pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in your leg, breaks loose, travels to the lungs.
What're the risk factors for pulmonary embolism? - Risk factors for pulmonary embolism include: prolonged bed rest, surgery, childbirth, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure.
What are the symptoms of pulmonary embolism? - The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism can vary greatly, depending on how much of the lung is involved.
How is pulmonary embolism diagnosed? - Diagnosis of pulmonary embolism depends upon an accurate and thorough medical history and ruling out other conditions.
What's the treatment for pulmonary embolism? - Treatment of pulmonary embolism focuses on preventing future pulmonary embolism by using anticoagulant medications.
How to prevent pulmonary embolism? - Pulmonary embolism risk can be reduced in certain patients through judicious use of antithrombotic drugs.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005