A pulmonary embolism, a sudden blockage in a lung artery, can be fatal.

What is pulmonary embolism?

A sudden blockage in a lung artery that often involves a blood clot in the leg.

What causes pulmonary embolism?

The cause is usually a blood clot in the leg called deep vein thrombosis that breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lung. A serious condition, a pulmonary embolism can cause permanent damage to the affected lung, low oxygen levels in the blood and damage to other organs. If a clot is large – or there are many – a pulmonary embolism can lead to death.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary embolism?

Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing up blood. If you have a blood clot, your leg may hurt. It also may be red and feel warm, tender and swollen.

How does Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center diagnose pulmonary embolism?

Your doctor will check your legs for signs of deep vein thrombosis, as well as your blood pressure and heart and lungs. You also may undergo diagnostic tests, including an ultrasound, a computed tomography (CT) scan and a pulmonary angiography.

How does Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center treat pulmonary embolism?

Treatment focuses on breaking up clots and keeping other clots from forming.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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