People who are at the greatest risk are those who:
- Have DVT
- Have previously had DVT
- Have previously had a pulmonary embolism.
The condition occurs equally in men and women, and your risk doubles every 10 years after age 60.
What Are the Symptoms?
More than half of people with pulmonary embolism do not have symptoms. When present, the most common symptoms are:
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Chest pain that gets worse with a deep breath, coughing, or chest movement
- Coughing up blood.
(Click Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism for more information about possible symptoms.)
In order for your doctor to diagnose you with pulmonary embolism, he or she will need to perform a physical exam and several tests.
(Click Diagnosing Pulmonary Embolism for more information about how a diagnosis is made.)
The primary goals in treating pulmonary embolism are to keep the current clot or clots from getting bigger and to stop the development of new clots.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Some people need immediate emergency treatment, while other people can be treated as an outpatient.
Pulmonary embolism treatment usually includes anticoagulant medications (blood thinners). Examples of anticoagulants are warfarin (Coumadin®) and heparin.
(Click Pulmonary Embolism Treatment for more information about treatment options.)