A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of your pulmonary arteries, the vessels that supply your lungs with blood. The most common cause of a blockage is a blood clot that breaks free from somewhere else in your body and moves to the lungs.
Even a small embolism can damage your lungs. A large clot can threaten your life.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism are fairly common. In fact, as many as 900,000 people a year experience DVT or a pulmonary embolism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Fortunately, fast treatment can save your life. Aurora Health Care’s expert cardiologists offer every available technique to eliminate blood clots, reduce the damage blood clots can cause and prevent new ones from forming. We help you breathe easy again.
The symptoms of pulmonary embolism can be very different, depending on the size of the blockage and its location. People with lung or heart disease may experience more severe symptoms.
The most common signs of a pulmonary embolism include:
If you think you might have a blood clot or a pulmonary embolism, call 911 right away.
Other symptoms of a pulmonary embolism might resemble those of a heart attack:
All pulmonary embolisms start when an artery becomes blocked. Most often, the blockage forms from one or more blood clots.
DVT is the most common source of clots.
Symptoms of DVT should be treated because of the risk that DVT may lead to a pulmonary embolism. These symptoms include:
Learn more about deep vein thrombosis, sometimes also called venous thrombosis.
Some pulmonary embolisms have other causes, including:
The most serious complication of pulmonary embolism is the risk of death. Pulmonary embolism is fatal for as many as one in three people who don’t receive medical care for their artery blockage. The likelihood of surviving and recovering is much higher if you receive treatment.
Sometimes, pulmonary embolisms cause pulmonary hypertension. The blood pressure is too high in your lungs and heart, and your heart has to work harder. We offer advanced diagnosis and care for pulmonary hypertension in our Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic.
Pulmonary embolism can be difficult to diagnose, because its symptoms are similar to signs of a heart attack or panic attack.
More people turn to Aurora Health Care for heart and lung care than any other hospital system in Wisconsin. We’ve cared for people with many types of pulmonary embolism. With our experience, we can provide a fast, accurate diagnosis and start treatment right away.
We begin by evaluating your risk of pulmonary embolism so that we can order the best tests for you, which may include:
Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis and testing at Aurora.
In an emergency, your doctor may administer thrombolytic medications (clot busters) to dissolve the clot quickly.
If you’re diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism or DVT, your doctor may also recommend:
Your doctor will talk with you about preventing blood clots from forming in the future.