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Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism, or PE, is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. The blockage usually is caused by a blood clot that travels to the lung from a vein in the leg.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism (PULL-mun-ary EM-bo-lizm), or PE, is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. The blockage usually is caused by a blood clot that travels to the lung from a vein in the leg.

A clot that forms in one part of the body and travels in the bloodstream to another part of the body is called an embolus (EM-bo-lus).

PE is a serious condition that can:

If a blood clot is large, or if there are many clots, PE can cause death.

Overview

PE most often is a complication of a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In DVT, blood clots form in the deep veins of the body—most often in the legs. These clots can break free... Read more about Pulmonary Embolism

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

New types of anticoagulants to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism following total hip or knee replacement surgery

Venous thromboembolism is the presence of a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel within the venous system; it includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) which can be fatal. Venous thromboembolism occurs in 44% to 90% of those patients who undergo total hip or knee replacement and who do not receive anticoagulants (blood thinning drugs).

The use of anticoagulants to prevent deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism following surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a preventable complication of surgery. The blood clot can break away and travel to the lungs to cause respiratory distress and death (pulmonary embolism). Deep vein thrombosis is believed to occur less often following aortic surgery than in general surgical operations because heparin used during most vascular operations may protect against intra‐operative DVT. Vascular patients are usually older, with more co‐morbidity (presence of other diseases or conditions), and are subject to prolonged immobility, which increase the likelihood of developing DVT. Bleeding (haemorrhagic) complications could however occur if further anticoagulants are used for DVT prophylaxis during recovery.

Vena caval filters for the prevention of pulmonary embolism

Blood clots in the lungs are called pulmonary emboli. They originate in the legs, fragment and travel to the lungs via the inferior vena cava. Vena caval filters are metal alloy devices inserted within the inferior vena cava to trap blood clots and thus prevent pulmonary emboli. Further emboli are usually prevented by blood thinning medications (anticoagulants).

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Summaries for consumers

Edoxaban (Lixiana) deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism: Overview

Edoxaban (trade name: Lixiana) has been approved in Germany since June 2015 for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary (lung) embolism in adults. It can also be used for the prevention of further thromboses or pulmonary embolisms.

New types of anticoagulants to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism following total hip or knee replacement surgery

Venous thromboembolism is the presence of a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel within the venous system; it includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) which can be fatal. Venous thromboembolism occurs in 44% to 90% of those patients who undergo total hip or knee replacement and who do not receive anticoagulants (blood thinning drugs).

The use of anticoagulants to prevent deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism following surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a preventable complication of surgery. The blood clot can break away and travel to the lungs to cause respiratory distress and death (pulmonary embolism). Deep vein thrombosis is believed to occur less often following aortic surgery than in general surgical operations because heparin used during most vascular operations may protect against intra‐operative DVT. Vascular patients are usually older, with more co‐morbidity (presence of other diseases or conditions), and are subject to prolonged immobility, which increase the likelihood of developing DVT. Bleeding (haemorrhagic) complications could however occur if further anticoagulants are used for DVT prophylaxis during recovery.

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More about Pulmonary Embolism

Photo of an adult

Also called: Pulmonary thromboembolism, PE

See Also: Deep Vein Thrombosis

Other terms to know:
Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)

Keep up with systematic reviews on Pulmonary Embolism:

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