Pulmonary Embolism Basics

This is the place to begin your education about pulmonary embolism.

This section of our site provides basic overviews of the major issues surrounding pulmonary embolism, with plenty of links to more in-depth information if you need it.

There is no way to predict your chances of getting pulmonary embolism, but you can familiarize yourself with its symptoms.


Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage of the main artery in the lungs or one of its branches. This blockage occurs when a clot travels (embolizes) from elsewhere in the body by way of the bloodstream. PE results from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), when a blood clot in the veins of the leg or pelvis breaks off and migrates to the lung. This process is termed venous thromboembolism (VTE). As the clot reaches the pulmonary artery, blood flow becomes obstructed in the lungs. As a result, the heart experiences increased pressure on its right ventricle, and must now contract even harder to push blood into the lungs. These events lead to the symptoms and signs of PE.


Symptoms

Diagnosis

Treatment

Concerned about your health or the health of a loved one?

Learn more about Pulmonary Embolism symptoms.

A doctor can use tests to determine if you have pulmonary embolism.

Explore the tests used to diagnose Pulmonary Embolism.

Familiarize yourself with treatments for this common disease.