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Pulmonary Embolism In Detail

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Updated July 31, 2012

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Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Explained
pulmonary embolism,

Normal Heart & Lung Anatomy

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What is a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)?

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a life-threatening condition where a blood clot begins to move through the vessels of the body and lodges in an artery in the lungs. In some cases, multiple clots (emboli) can move to the lungs.

When the clot lodges in the artery, blood can no longer reach the area of the lung that is fed by that blood vessel. This condition is very serious and can result in death if not treated immediately. If the clot(s) are severe, the individual will require emergency medical treatment in order to survive and prevent further clots.

What Causes a Pulmonary Embolism?

In the vast majority of cases, a pulmonary embolism is caused by another type of blood clot, called a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. A deep vein thrombosis typically forms in the veins of the legs. These clots can start to move until they lodge in a vessel that is too small to allow the clot to move any further, typically the small arteries of the lungs.

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