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Pulmonary Embolism

General Information

When there’s a blockage in a major lung artery, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE). It occurs when a blood clot breaks off, travels through the bloodstream and stops in a lung artery, blocking blood flow.

PE requires emergency treatment. Call 911 if you notice sudden signs of pulmonary embolism. Goshen Heart & Vascular Center is equipped to address your emergency with advanced, compassionate care. Our cardiac hybrid suite features leading-edge technologies that enable our integrated team of specialists to perform lifesaving procedures.

The health of our community is our top priority. That’s why the team at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center does everything we can to prevent pulmonary embolism. To learn about your risk, talk to your primary care provider about a heart screening. Or, if you want to talk to someone at the Heart & Vascular Center, call (574) 533-7476 to make an appointment.

Signs of a blood clot in the lungs

Many people don’t show symptoms of pulmonary embolism. If you do have symptoms, they come on suddenly and include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Back pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Bluish lips and nails

PE is usually caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot in a deep vein. Risk factors for DVT include smoking, being obese, having surgery, being bedridden or sedentary or having a chronic condition like heart disease or cancer .

Emergency pulmonary embolism treatment

If your PE isn’t life threatening, your doctor may recommend blood thinners (anticoagulants) to stop the clot or new clots from growing. Your body dissolves the clot with time.

In a life-threatening situation, clot-busting medicines called thrombolytics dissolve the clot quickly. This medicine is saved for emergency situations. Other options are catheter-based procedures and surgery.

Many cases of pulmonary embolism can be prevented by spotting signs of DVT early, as the two conditions often occur together.

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