Pulmonary Embolism

In a pulmonary embolism, vessels to the lungs are blocked by a blood clot, so that the lungs can no longer be supplied with sufficient blood. A pulmonary embolism is often triggered by a thrombosis . A pulmonary embolism can have life-threatening consequences and should therefore be treated and cared for as quickly as possible.

Pulmonary Embolism

What is a pulmonary embolism?

According to Eshaoxing, a pulmonary embolism is a very serious condition that people of all ages can get. There are various causes that can lead to the development of these symptoms. More precisely, a pulmonary embolism means that blood clots form in one or more veins, which are then transported further and reach the heart, among other things.

There they may block some blood vessels, which can then lead to a pulmonary embolism. These blood clots can form in several parts of the body, particularly in the joints of the extremities, which is very common in the legs. So you can define this condition in such a way that blood clots block the blood circulation and thus cannot lead the important oxygen to the lungs.


The most common cause of a pulmonary embolism is sitting or lying down without being able to move, pinching veins in the joints and thus triggering an embolism. A blood clot, also known as a thrombus, occurs most frequently in the leg or pelvic veins. An example is sitting on an airplane for a long time, where you cannot straighten your legs and a pulmonary embolism can develop.

If one or both legs start to hurt or even get thicker, you have to see a doctor at the latest. Inexperienced divers who ascend too quickly from a great depth can also develop a pulmonary embolism. The cause here is that gas bubbles form in the veins or arteries, which can then also block the blood supply to the heart and thus the lungs cannot be supplied either. In the case of a longer hospital stay, a pulmonary embolism is prevented by injecting a blood-thinning agent.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Before a pulmonary embolism occurs, a number of warning signs such as coughing or wheezing usually appear. These symptoms gradually increase in intensity, eventually leading to pulmonary embolism. This usually manifests itself in the form of sudden shortness of breath and chest pain. The pain can radiate to the shoulder or abdomen.

Those affected feel fear and nervousness, often accompanied by tachycardia, coughing and coughing up blood. In severe cases, fainting or even heart failure occurs. The pulmonary embolism usually occurs in stronger flare-ups. At first, those affected feel only imperceptible symptoms, which increase in intensity and duration with each blood clot.

Typical symptoms are tachycardia and a dry cough, but also fever, with the symptoms often disappearing on their own. Eventually, a severe pulmonary embolism occurs, which can cause life-threatening complications. In addition to the typical chest pain, which occurs mainly with intensive breathing movements, shortness of breath and noises during breathing can occur. In extreme cases, a pulmonary infarction can occur, which is manifested by coughing up blood, fever and shortness of breath. Right heart failure leads to congested neck veins and water retention in the legs.

course of the disease

The course of the disease pulmonary embolism is painful and must be treated immediately. There are also people who are more prone to thrombosis than others. Those affected are so-called risk patients. Those who have already broken their hips or legs and even have to wear a prosthesis are just as susceptible to a pulmonary embolism as patients who have had major surgeries.

Age also plays a role, as does serious illnesses such as a stroke or malignant tumors. However, the actual pulmonary embolism only occurs after the detachment of a blood clot, which makes its way through the veins and arteries in the direction of the heart. This is what happens when you get up after a long rest and start doing strenuous movements.


A pulmonary embolism can cause various complications. In addition, some late effects are possible. One of the most common effects is pulmonary infarction. This occurs in around 25 percent of all pulmonary embolisms and occurs 12 to 25 hours after the embolism. Due to the lack of blood flow in the lung tissue, which is supplied by the blocked pulmonary artery, the tissue is irreparably damaged. This is often noticeable by coughing up blood.

Right-sided heart failure (right-sided heart failure) is one of the side effects of pulmonary embolism that often occurs. For example, occlusion of larger pulmonary vessels causes an increase in pulmonary circulatory resistance. The reason for this is that too many vessels are subject to the blockage. The right ventricle therefore has to work harder than usual. If this leads to their being overwhelmed, there is a risk of malfunctions or even total failure of the right half of the heart. Life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias are also possible due to the overload.

It is not uncommon for a pulmonary embolism to result in pneumonia. Because the parts of the lungs that are poorly supplied with blood also have poorer ventilation, harmful germs can spread more easily in the lung region and cause inflammation. Sometimes inflammation of the lining of the lungs occurs, which doctors call pleurisy.

Another complication of pulmonary embolism can be pulmonary hypertension. Repeated pulmonary embolisms result in permanent changes in the pulmonary vessels. To counteract the higher resistance, the heart increases its pumping capacity. As a result, high blood pressure occurs in the lung region, which in turn has a harmful effect on the heart.

When should you go to the doctor?

If symptoms such as shortness of breath or shortness of breath occur, a doctor’s visit is recommended. The insufficient supply of oxygen to the organism can lead to serious complications or a life-threatening situation. If you have chest pain, a feeling of pressure in your chest, or difficulty breathing, you need to see a doctor.

Complaints such as shoulder pain, noises when breathing, cough or fever should be examined and treated. If there is bloody sputum or coughing up blood, it is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible. Changes in heart rhythm, increased breathing rate and heart palpitations are signs of an existing irregularity.

A doctor should be consulted to determine the cause of the symptoms. If everyday tasks can no longer be carried out as usual, if general performance decreases or if sleep disorders set in, the person concerned needs medical help. Stomach pain or digestive disorders should be examined by a doctor if the discrepancies occur unabated over several days.

If there are problems with the blood circulation, discoloration of the skin or an internal weakness, a doctor is needed. A doctor’s visit is also necessary if emotional problems arise. If you have anxiety, panic, behavioral abnormalities, or mood swings, further investigation should be initiated.

Treatment & Therapy

If a pulmonary embolism is detected, treatment must be started immediately. Because this disease is always life-threatening, hospital treatment involves immediate oxygenation and an infusion of blood-thinning drugs to prevent further blood clotting.

The coagulation hammers are also used to prevent further blood clots from forming and making the disease worse. These medications have to be taken for several more months, possibly in tablet form or as injections, in order to avoid another pulmonary embolism.

Anti-thrombosis stockings, which the patient should already wear in bed, are also suitable as an additional treatment measure. The stockings are also worn as a preventive measure in patients at risk. Equally important is the movement of the patient, that is, he should get back on his feet quickly and stabilize the blood circulation through movements.

Outlook & Forecast

A general forecast cannot be made. It must take into account the patient’s state of health and the extent of the disease. Doctors have classified several levels of severity of a pulmonary embolism. Mild cases are rarely fatal, but severe cases are fatal in every second case. Basically, it can be said that old age and poor physical condition reduce the probability of survival. Seeing a doctor right away, on the other hand, increases the likelihood of recovery. The first time after the onset of the symptoms harbors the greatest danger. 90 percent of all patients who do not survive an illness die within the first two hours.

A pulmonary embolism is life-threatening. Waiting and hoping for improvement are not options. Once the illness has been overcome, there is a risk of another embolism. This can be counteracted by taking anticoagulants. Permanent high blood pressure rarely develops in the lungs. Patients increase their chances of a symptom-free life by breaking unfavorable habits. Losing excess weight and avoiding nicotine has been shown to help prevent a recurrence of a pulmonary embolism.


A pulmonary embolism can be prevented by not smoking and by doing a lot of physical activity or sport. A healthy diet also helps. Avoid being overweight. Drink enough.


A pulmonary embolism can best be cured with a healthy lifestyle. This means maintaining an everyday life that is as stress-free as possible, getting enough exercise in the fresh air and getting enough sleep. Protection and rest are important to recover from the exertion. Uplifting conversations with loved ones from the immediate environment can help to reduce mental stress and promote a positive attitude towards life. Regular check-ups with the doctor treating you ensure that the recovery process is monitored and any complications are identified in good time.

You can do that yourself

In the event of a pulmonary embolism, the patient should always call the emergency doctor immediately. If he is unable to do so himself for health reasons, observers are obliged to contact an emergency doctor. In addition, it is necessary to take first aid measures until the doctor arrives. In addition, an adequate oxygen supply is important for the patient.

People who are at risk for thrombosis should take several precautions. Rigid postures or prolonged sitting and standing should be avoided. Positions that could pinch limbs or blood vessels should also be avoided. The body needs sufficient and regular exercise to prevent blood congestion. Activities that stimulate circulation have a positive influence on the prevention of pulmonary embolism. In addition, stays in rooms with high levels of pollutants without a corresponding face mask are to be avoided. The activity of the lungs can be affected or tissue damage can occur.

In the case of aching legs that cannot be attributed to a short-term overload, the person concerned should make changes. Sporting activities or wearing healthy shoes are helpful. Shoes with high heels or the wrong size cause cramps that can be harmful to blood circulation and vessels.