Blood clotting is a normal process to prevent bleeding. But sometimes, the body is unable to break down a clot. Occasionally a blood clot forms in one area of the body, breaks off from the blood vessel, and travels to another area of the body lodging in a new blood vessel and blocking blood supply to a particular organ. This blockage is called an embolism. A pulmonary embolism (PE) develops in a lung artery.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the most common cause of a pulmonary embolism. With a DVT, a clot forms deep in the veins of the leg, and part of it breaks off and travels to the lungs. A less common source of pulmonary embolism is a fat embolus (often linked to the breaking of a large bone), amniotic fluid embolus, air bubbles, and DVT in the upper body. Clots may also form on the end of an inserted intravenous (IV) catheter, break off, and travel to the lungs.
A pulmonary embolism can quickly cause serious, life-threatening problems. Lack of blood flow can lead to lung tissue damage and cause low blood oxygen levels that can damage other organs in the body, too.
Each person may experience symptoms differently, but here are some symptoms for pulmonary embolism (PE):
You may also have symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), such as: