A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot breaks free from a deep vein, travels through the bloodstream and becomes stuck in the lungs. Blood clots usually begin in the deep veins of the legs, thigh, pelvis or sometimes arms – known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
When a PE blood clot blocks the blood flow to the lung it can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Our nationally recognized Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) is here for you, around the clock, to provide rapid response to this condition. All Beaumont Emergency Centers are equipped to provide care for PE blood clot patients.
If you are experiencing sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, fast heart rate, lightheadedness, passing out, or coughing up blood, go to the nearest emergency room immediately, or call 911 depending on the severity of your symptoms.
A DVT can cause leg pain or cramping, swelling, redness, or skin that feels warm to the touch. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Risk of Pulmonary Embolism
Anyone is at risk of developing a pulmonary embolism (PE) blood clot. However, some factors may increase your risk, like:
- recent surgery or trauma, especially to the legs
- personal history of DVT or PE
- genetic blood clotting disorder
- current or past COVID-19 infection
- family history of DVT or PE
- hormone replacement therapy (estrogen therapy)
- oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
- certain cancer therapies
- extended bed rest such as during hospitalization or after surgery
- flying or riding long distances
- older age
- being overweight or obese
- pregnancy (during and after pregnancy, including cesarean section), up to six weeks post-delivery
We use a variety of different methods to understand what’s going on in your body. First, we need to understand your medical history and complete a physical exam. We may also need to complete blood work and certain diagnostic tests, like a chest x-ray, CT scan, electrocardiogram, and ultrasound.
Our experienced Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) is made up of a group of experts working together to quickly provide the treatment that’s right for you. Immediate treatment may include certain medications, procedures or surgery to dissolve or remove the blot clot.
If you have a PE, our goal is to prevent the blood clot from getting larger using blood thinners. Blood thinners slow the body’s ability to form new clots and prevent existing clots from becoming more significant. Over time your body will dissolve the existing clots.
For very serious PE blood clots, treatment options may also include clot-busting medication, catheter-directed treatments, or surgery to remove blood clots causing strain on the heart.