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Pulmonary embolism happens when one or more of your arteries in your lungs gets blocked by a blood clot, fat or tumour. The most common type of pulmonary embolism is caused by a blood clot that moves through your blood stream, goes through your heart and blocks off an artery in your lung.

Most pulmonary embolisms are caused from clots originating in the lower extremities (deep vein thrombosis), and many resolve on their own. However in some cases, pulmonary embolism can cause sudden death.
Pulmonary embolism can be caused by:

  • Clots from the venous circulation from the right side of the heart or tumours that have invaded the circulatory system
  • Other sources such as amniotic fluid, air, fat, bone marrow and foreign substances

Signs and Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms, or if you think you have pulmonary embolism, see your doctor right away. Your symptoms could be caused by pulmonary embolism, or they could be caused by another disease.

Risk Factors

Anyone can get pulmonary embolism, and here are the risk factors.

Treatment

If you think you have a pulmonary embolism it is important to get medical treatment right away.

Prevention

Early detection and treatment of deep vein thrombosis (clots of the legs) can reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism.