What is a pulmonary embolism?
A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in the lungs.
All blood in the body has to be pumped through the lungs to pick up oxygen. A pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot, or a piece of clot, gets stuck in one of the blood vessels in the lungs. The clot could have formed somewhere else in the body such as the deep veins in your leg and this is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it has then broken off and travelled to the lungs.
Some small clots may cause no symptoms at all. If a clot lodges in the pulmonary artery, it can create an obstruction that deprives lung tissue of vital oxygen and disrupts the pulmonary circulation which can cause shock, collapse and can be fatal
Common symptoms might include:
- Chest pain that is sharp and is worse when taking a deep breath
- Coughing up blood
- Breathlessness and coughing
- Feeling light headed or dizzy
All the above can also be symptoms for other conditions; however a pulmonary embolism can be life threatening so if you are concerned, seek the advice of a doctor or go to the nearest accident and emergency department.