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Francis V. Adams, M.D.
Francis V. Adams, M.D.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot lodges in the blood vessels (pulmonary arteries) of the lung. This blood clot is called an embolus, and most often begins as a clot in the veins of the legs or pelvis. These clots may happen after surgery, particularly after surgery of the hip or pelvic area, or after an extended period of immobility such as a long auto or airplane trip. Some people have a tendency to form blood clots due to an abnormality in their blood clotting system.

When the artery is blocked, usually by one or more blood clots, oxygen levels drop, and blood pressure in the lungs rises. This may cause damage to the heart and lungs. Pulmonary embolism due to large clots can cause sudden death, typically within 30 minutes of when symptoms begin

Common signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include: sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, a cough that produces bloody sputum, sweating, a rapid heartbeat, and lightheadedness or fainting. These can vary greatly, depending on how much of the lung is involved, the size of the clot and a person’s overall health — especially the presence or absence of other lung or heart disease.

recommended reading
These articles provide in-depth information and are written to help you make the best healthcare decisions for you and your loved ones.
Pulmonary Embolism
tests & procedures

You doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests to evaluate your condition.

Angiography of the Lung
Arterial Blood Gases
Chest X-Ray
CT Scan
Doppler Ultrasound
Lung Scan

For other tests and diagnostic procedures use the section of this site called Medical Tests A to Z .


Deep Leg Vein Thrombosis

Economy Class Syndrome: Flight-Related Deep Vein Thrombosis

Heart Attack and Unstable Angina

medication center
medication assistance

This section provides you with an alphabetical listing of more than 1,000 medications, including prescription drugs and those you can purchase over-the-counter. Just "click on" your medications to learn what they are used for, how to take them, special precautions, and some of the possible side effects. You can choose your medication by brand name or generic name.

Medications A-Z

If you are having difficulty paying for your medications you may qualify for financial assistance or free medications. Visit the Medication Assistance Center to learn about available medication and insurance programs.

Don't let financial problems stop you from getting the treatment you need; there are resources and organizations that may be able to help you.

additional resources

This listing provides you with Internet sites that are sponsored by government agencies or are well-known and credible national organizations.

American Venous Forum

Coalition to Prevent DVT

MEDLINEplus—Pulmonary Embolism


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Surfing the Internet
When looking at Internet sites, remember that the information can be sponsored by anyone. Take into account the sponsoring group or individual when gathering information or help. Be especially careful about giving out personal or financial information.

Learn more about surfing the web:

Last modified on: 30 June 2015