A pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage (usually a blood clot) in a lung artery and is most often a complication of deep vein thrombosis. A pulmonary embolism is a serious condition that can:
- Damage part of your lung because of a lack of blood flow
- Cause low oxygen levels in your blood
- Damage other organs in your body because of a lack of oxygen
- Lead to death if a blood clot is large or there are many clots
Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sharp chest pain that may become worse with deep breathing or coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid heart rate or breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Signs of shock
Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis
Pulmonary embolism can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions, including heart attack, pneumonia, panic attacks and others. Our team of vascular specialists uses a range of advanced diagnostic tools to rule out other problems and confirm a diagnosis.
Common tests for pulmonary embolism are:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Diagnostic catheterization
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Lung ventilation/perfusion scan to determine how well blood and oxygen are flowing through your lungs
Pulmonary Embolism Treatment
Our goal is to prevent blood clots from growing, affecting other organs or recurring. In many cases, we will prescribe anticoagulants – medications that work as blood thinners. If you have a pulmonary embolism, we may also prescribe clot-busting drugs called thrombolytics.
In some cases, we may recommend a procedure to treat your clots.