Pulmonary embolism doesn’t have to be life threatening

Dr. Sina Iranmanesh

The term pulmonary embolism sounds pretty serious. In some cases, it is. It can even be life threatening. But it doesn’t have to be.

With today’s advanced technology, what was once an open-heart surgery followed by a long stay in the intensive care unit is now a minimally invasive procedure that has patients returning home within a few days.

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that usually starts in the lower leg. It breaks off and travels to your heart and lungs. Most people first notice pain and swelling in their calf muscle and some redness. That should prompt you to see a physician for an ultrasound.

If a clot were to break off and travel to the lungs, you would feel chest pain, you’d have trouble breathing, be short of breath and have chest tightness. You could almost fear you are having a heart attack. If that’s the case, you should come to the emergency room right away.

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