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

Shortness of breath 181674203

As pulmonary embolism may follow an episode of leg (or arm) vein thrombosis, associated preceding symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the leg (sometimes both) or arm
  • Leg pain or tenderness that may only be present when standing or walking
  • Increased warmth in the swollen or painful area of the leg or arm
  • Redness or discoloration of the skin
  • Enlargement of the superficial veins in the affected leg or arm

The symptoms of acute pulmonary embolism or acute deep vein thrombosis may resemble other medical conditions or problems (e.g. heart attack). Do not wait to see if the symptoms will "go away". It is important to notify your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you experience these symptoms. Seek treatment right away to prevent serious acute complications such as shock, cardiac arrest and death or long term complications such as pulmonary hypertension (shortness of breath, exercise intolerance).