Pulmonary Embolism

What is Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is the sudden blockage of a major artery in the lung. This is usually due to a blood clot that developed in another part of the body, broke off and travelled with the blood stream into the lung circulation, blocking the pumping of the heart and oxygen uptake. The most frequent source of these blood clots (thrombi) is the deep vein circulation of the legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis.

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Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism

The symptoms of acute pulmonary embolism usually begin suddenly and include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain, often aggravated by coughing or movement
  • Pain in the back
  • Cough with or without bloody sputum
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid pulse or breathing
  • Lightheadedness or passing out
  • Blue lips or nail beds

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Diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism

Depending on your medical history, your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination and order imaging tests of the lungs and of the leg veins. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have had any symptoms, such as those listed above.

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Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism

Treatment of acute pulmonary embolism is typically provided in a hospital, where your condition can be closely monitored. The goal of treatment is to primarily prevent the clot from growing and if symptoms are severe remove the clot to prevent shock, cardiac arrest or death. A secondary goal is to to reduce the severity of long-term pulmonary hypertension (shortness of breath, exercise intolerance).

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vascular health

Vascular Surgeon

Dr. Efthymios (Makis) Avgerinos is a Vascular Surgeon, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in USA.


Scientific Editing

Efthymios D. Avgerinos, MD, PhD, FEBVS
Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center Pennsylvania, USA

E-mail: info@vascularhealth.gr