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Pulmonary Embolism - How To Detect It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr.Prashant Vazirani 89% (310ratings)
MD - Medicine, DNB Medicine, DNB - Cardiology (Gold Medalist)
Cardiologist, Ahmedabad  •  8years experience
Pulmonary Embolism - How To Detect It?

Pulmonary Embolism is a blood clot in the Pulmonary arteries that usually travels from a deep vein in the legs to the lungs. This clot blocks the lungs and creates a life-threatening situation for the patient. With prompt medication and treatment, the risk can be mitigated.


The symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism vary with the size and position of the clot. The most common symptoms include pain in the chest and shortness of breath. The patient with Pulmonary Embolism suffers from chest pain occasionally, and it gets worse with physical activity. The pain is deep and feels like a heart attack.

The other common symptoms are:

● Pain in legs or swelling


Irregular heartbeat


● Feeling tired all the time



● Heartburn


Pulmonary Embolism is caused due to the formation of several clumps or blood clots that enter into the Pulmonary arteries. Typically, these clots are formed from the deep veins of the legs, also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. The clots block the flow of blood in the lungs, which is fatal to the patients.

These clots gradually build up in the arteries. Some very common causes for the formation of these clots are the release of fats from the broken long bones, the tissue in the bloodstream or air bubble.


The diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism is difficult in patients who are already suffering from heart or lung conditions. However, doctors look for a D-dimer level in the bloodstream to determine the clots. There are various causes for a high level of D dimer, but it gives a starting point to the doctor to investigate further.

● Blood Test: The blood test checks the level of D dimer in the blood. If the level is high, the doctor may determine the amount of oxygen level in the blood. Generally, the blood clots lower the level of oxygen in the blood. If the oxygen level is low, doctors doubt the presence of blood clots.

Ultrasound: The body imaging method helps doctors to check for clots in the blood without performing any operation. This non-invasive way gives the imagery of the veins. Clumps can easily be seen in the images of the Ultrasound report.

● CT Scan: The spiral CT scan moves around the body to look for clots in the veins. It is a high-tech method through which doctors determined the number, size, and amount of blood clots in the patients.


The treatment for Pulmonary Embolism depends upon the size and number of clots in the body. If a person is already suffering from heart or lungs condition, then he/she shall be given medication accordingly. The most common treatment entails medicines, such as blood thinners, which makes the blood thinner. These medications help in dissolving the clots.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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