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Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly. Anyone who experiences an acute onset of chest pain, lightheadedness, rapid breathing, spitting up blood, weak pulse, should call 911 immediately.

A Pulmonary Embolism (PE) usually happens when a blood clot in the leg, called a deep vein thrombosis, breaks loose and travels through the blood stream to the lung. PE is a serious condition that can cause permanent damage to the lungs, low oxygen levels in your blood, and damage to other organs in your body from not getting enough oxygen.

pulmonary embolism
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Causes of Pulmonary Embolism

The cause is usually due to deep vein thrombosis. However, other conditions, traits or habits may also play a role in raising your risk. These conditions are known as risk factors and include:

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing PE.

  • Age over 60 years
  • Family history of embolisms
  • Family history of heart attack or stroke
  • Genetics

Other conditions that contribute to the development of PE:

  • Injuries like bone fractures or muscle tears can cause damage to blood vessels, leading to clots.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cancers of the brain, ovary, pancreas, colon, stomach, lung and kidney.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism

The symptoms of PE vary greatly. They're often related to the size and where it lodges in the lung. Some common symptoms include:

Diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism

To diagnose your condition, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. You'll also have a physical exam. After that, your doctor may recommend diagnostic tests. Some of the diagnostic tests and procedures include:

Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism

Your treatment for a pulmonary embolism depends on the size and location of the blood clot. If the problem is minor and caught early, your doctor may recommend medication as treatment. Some drugs can break up small clots. If further treatment is required, these are some treatment options:


  • Anticoagulants “blood-thinners” will help treat, prevent, and reduce blood clots.
  • Thrombolytic therapy is the administration of drugs called “lytics” or “clot busters” that will help break up or dissolve blood clots.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900

Pulmonary Embolism Treatment & Care

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