Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is the continuation of thrombosis: a venous thrombus breaks loose  and detaches from the vein wall to the lung, where it obstructs circulation. Pulmonary embolism may lead to (sudden) death, but it is often asymptomatic

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is caused by a sudden blockage of one or more pulmonary arteries, usually because of a large venous thrombus breaking loose from the wall of the deep veins of the leg. These veins return blood to the heart, and via the pulmonary artery, to the lungs.

When blood cannot reach the lungs, it will not be oxygenated and lead to respiratory failure and an overload of the heart.

Pulmonary embolism is sometimes a cause of death.



A year ago I had pulmonary embolism and seven months ago I stopped taking anticoagulants. My question is, how long should I wait to get pregnant for this problem not to happen again?

If you do not have sequelae, (3% of the patients experience shortness of breath after pulmonary embolism), you can get pregnant now. Nonetheless, as soon as you know that you are pregnant, you should contact your doctor who will decide if you need any prophylaxis during your pregnancy. Pregnancy and delivery are  risk factors for developing a new episode of venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. However, there are effective methods for prevention.

I am 26 years old and two years ago I had a pulmonary embolism after appendicitis surgery. Even today I have discomfort, sometimes my lung (the one of the PE) hurts, like needles and pins and my breathing becomes heavier. Is this normal after an episode like this?

Yes, it is normal. After  pulmonary embolism, some areas of the lung can be injured or swollen, which might cause sharp pain, especially when breathing. They can for last months, or even years. If you have already seen your doctor and he has ruled out a new embolism, you should not worry.

My question is: when a patient is diagnosed with PE, which are the risks of having the disease again, and how long should he/she stay on anticoagulant treatment? Thank you very much.

All patients with PE can have a new PE episode despite treatment, or bleed because of the treatment. In general, the combination of both risks does not surpass 5% during the first six months. All depends on age, cause and underlying diseases. Duration of treatment can also depend on these factors, but we usually keep it between three months and one year.


Do you have questions?

If there are aspects of thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism that are not clear to you, you can write to us and our specialists will answer to you in a short time. This box does not replace the visit with your doctor