ABC Medical Center > Pulmonary embolism

What is Pulmonary embolism?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


When one of the pulmonary arteries is obstructed by a blood clot, we have a pulmonary embolism. These clots do not originate in the lungs, they generally come from the deep veins of the lower limbs or other body areas, traveling to the pulmonary arteries.

By not receiving blood, the affected lung areas collapse, causing pulmonary infarctions where breathing is compromised, ceasing to oxygenate the blood that goes to the rest of the body, so, if immediate treatment is not received, the consequences can be fatal.

Although deep vein thrombosis is the main cause of pulmonary embolism, there are also blockages caused by other agents such as:

  • Medullary material from a bone fracture.
  • Air bubbles.
  • Tumor fragments.

The best way to prevent pulmonary embolism is to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs, so you should exercise daily, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, avoid prolonged periods of inactivity, and if you are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, take medical treatment that includes anticoagulants, compression stockings, and frequent elevation of the legs.

Signs and symptoms Pulmonary embolism

  • Tachycardia or arrhythmia.
  • Dizziness.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain. 
  • Bloody coughing fits. 
  • Fainting.
  • Cyanosis.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • High fever.
  • Swollen and painful leg due to deep vein thrombosis.

Certain potential risks increase the chances of forming blood clots that cause a pulmonary embolism, such as:

  • Kidney failure.
  • Blood coagulation disorders.
  • COVID-19.
  • Heart failure.
  • Cancer.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Surgical procedures.
  • Smoking.
  • Overweight and obesity.
  • Hormonal treatments.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Make long trips without moving.
  • Being immobile in bed for a long time, whether hospitalized or at home.

Diagnosis and treatment Pulmonary embolism

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and order tests such as blood tests, chest x-rays, ultrasound, pulmonary angiography, computed tomography, ventilation and perfusion scan, as well as MRI.

Once the diagnosis has been established and the thrombi or clots are located, the purpose of the treatment is to dissolve the existing ones and prevent the formation of new ones, for which you will be given thrombolytics and anticoagulants.

If the clots are considerable in size, surgical removal of the clots with a catheter or placement of a filter in the superior vena cava will be necessary to prevent the thrombi from reaching the lungs.

It is important to continue treatment for as long as the doctor indicates, as well as to undergo regular check-ups to avoid the development of new episodes of deep vein thrombosis.

At the Cardiovascular Center, we offer you a wide range of prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and follow-up services to take care of you through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary care model. Come to us, we want to hear your heart.


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