Munson Health
Pulmonary Embolism

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by Rosenblum LB


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may order the following tests:
  • Arterial blood gas study —to check oxygen levels and lung function
  • EKG —to assess the electrical activity of the heart
  • D-Dimer blood test—to detect the presence of a clot
  • If you have a family history of blood clots, and had blood clots in the past for no apparent reason, your doctor may do additional blood tests. The tests will look for possible inherited defects in your clotting system, such as:
    • Factor V Leiden mutation (seen in up to 40% of cases)
    • Increased factor VIII
Imaging tests create pictures of internal structures. Imaging tests may include:
  • Chest x-ray —to look for signs of dead tissue; the pulmonary embolism cannot be seen on the chest x-ray
  • Lung perfusion scan—a test that compares breathing and circulation in all areas of the lungs
  • CT scan of the chest
  • Pulmonary angiogram —to see blood vessels in the lungs
  • Magnetic resonance (MR) angiography
  • Echocardiography —to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
If you are diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, follow your doctor's instructions .


Prevention of pulmonary embolism means preventing clots from forming.
You can help prevent clots with a healthy lifestyle. Suggestions include:
  • Eat a healthful diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Begin a safe exercise program with the advice of your doctor.
  • Walk or move your legs to break up long periods of sitting.
  • If you smoke, talk with your doctor on ways you can quit .
  • Unless you are on a fluid-restricted diet, be sure to drink lots of water.
People at high risk of developing blood clots can do the following:
  • Take medication if your doctor recommends it. Anticoagulant drugs are most commonly used.
  • Wear elastic stockings if suggested by your doctor. They can help improve circulation in your legs.
  • Walk or move your legs to break up long periods of sitting. If you are traveling, get up and walk every few hours.


American Lung Association

American Society of Hematology



Canadian Lung Association

Health Canada



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