Pulmonary Embolism

What is a pulmonary embolism?

A pulmonary embolism is when one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs is blocked, usually by a blood clot that has traveled to the lungs from the legs. It can be life-threatening and is one of the leading causes of death in the US and other developed countries.

What are the risk factors for pulmonary embolisms?

Risk factors include:

  • Pregnancy
  • A history (or family history) of blood clots, varicose veins, or deep vein thrombosis
  • BMI over 30
  • Twin pregnancies
  • Cesarean-section
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lupus
  • Stillbirth
  • Blood transfusions

What are the symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Cough, which may produce bloody or blood-streaked sputum
  • Leg pain
  • Cyanosis (clammy or discolored skin)
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Leg swelling (edema)

What is the treatment for Pulmonary Embolism?

If you think you might be having a pulmonary embolism, or at higher risk of developing one, talk to your doctor right away.

Treatment is typically a blood thinner called heparin, and in some emergency cases, thrombolytics are given to break up blood clots.

For prevention, compression socks can be effective in preventing blood clots from forming. Also, heparin can be given after delivery for high risk patients.

Who can help diagnose/treat Pulmonary Embolism?
  • OB/Gyn
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)

  • https://weillcornell.org/news/what-every-woman-should-know-about-pregnancy-and-pulmonary-embolisms
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-embolism/symptoms-causes/syc-20354647
  • https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1538-7836.2010.03794.x