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Acute Pulmonary Embolism and Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the obstruction of lung blood vessels, usually by a blood clot.

PE can:

  • Block blood flow into the lungs and can be life threatening
  • Form in the legs, break loose and then travel to the lung

Blood Clot Risks

The following can increase the risk of developing blood clots that could cause PE:

  • Smoking
  • Inactivity for long periods — such as following surgery or hospitalization, or during a long flight or car trip
  • Cancer

If the blood clot is large enough, it may lead to sudden death.

Smaller clots can reduce the blood flow to the lungs and might cause:

Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism

The most common symptoms of PE include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain that is worse with deep breath
  • Coughing up pink secretions or bloody mucus
  • Fast heart rate or skipped beats

Pulmonary Embolism Treatment Options

A blood clot may dissolve on its own, but this usually takes a few weeks.

Treatment for a PE typically includes blood thinners (such as Heparin or Coumadin) to prevent more blood clots from forming and causing further damage into the heart or the lungs.

Therapy with blood thinners might be for a few months or some might need treatment for the rest of their lives.

Make an Appointment Today

To schedule an appointment at the UPMC Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Program, contact us at:

Learn More About Pulmonary Embolism

UPMC Patient Education Materials:

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with the UPMC Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Program team, call toll-free at
1-877-PH4-UPMC, or email​​

Follow the beat for a healthier life. Read our blog post: Pulmonary Embolism: A Dangerous Clot​​.

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