A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in the lung. It usually comes from smaller vessels in the leg. Clots forming in the legs are called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The clot travels to the lungs and then through the vessels of the lung until it reaches smaller vessels where it becomes wedged. The clot then prevents any further blood from travelling to that section of the lung.
Common symptoms might include:
- Chest pain that is sharp and is worse when taking a deep breath
- Shortness of breath
- Heparin is usually the first medication given. It will stop further clots forming. It may be given by an intravenous drip or low molecular weight heparin may be given by injection.
- Warfarin (Coumadin) is usually given shortly after the heparin or a low molecular weight heparin is started.
Once your blood tests show that the right levels have been reached then the heparin is stopped, and the warfarin is continued.
People with PEs may be in hospital for several days until their blood can be adequately thinned. Then they are maintained anticoagulation therapy (warfarin) for six months or longer.
Clopidogrel. NMIHI. Accessed at http://www.nmihi.com/c/clopidogrel.html
Pulmonary Embolism. NMIHI. Accessed at http://www.nmihi.com/p/pulmonary-embolism.htm
Symptoms of pulmonary embolism. Ada Health. Accessed at https://ada.com/ on June 22, 2018.
What is a pulmonary embolism? Cleveland Clinic. Accessed at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/