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What are blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)?

Pulmonary embolism is a disease in which a plug of solid material (blood clot) separated from their place of origin - usually from the vessels in the legs or pelvis, and transported by the bloodstream to the lungs and gets stuck in one of the arteries of the lungs and blocks it. Lung tissue receiving blood supply from that artery will die if blood supply is suddenly stopped.

The symptoms of pulmonary embolism vary depending on the location and size of the stopper. The diagnosis can sometimes be difficult to set in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms of blood clots in the lungs are:

  • Sudden, sharp chest pain that begins or worsens during deep inhalation or coughing, often accompanied by shortness of breath.
  • Sudden unexplained shortness of breath, or without pain
  • Coughing can cause you to cough up blood-stained sputum
  • Quick pulse
  • Anxiety and significant sweating
pulmonary embolism symptoms
Small pulmonary emboli do not cause symptoms at all, or they can take the stitches, cough or moderate breathlessness. Larger clots provide powerful wheezing or breathlessness, cough and chest pain that increases with breathing.

Annually, there are about 10000-15000 patients with pulmonary embolism. This corresponds to about 250 new patients every week throughout the year.

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