Pulmonary embolism diagnosis and treatment
When a blood clot travels from another part of the body via the veins to the lungs this is called a pulmonary embolism. Clots usually travel from the legs but may less commonly come from elsewhere.
Acutely, pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening, but once discharged from hospital on anticoagulation, the focus of care shifts to assessing long-term complications. Fortunately, these are serious in under 5% of patients, but they are important to identify.
Persistent breathlessness may suggest chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension due to incomplete resolution of clots in the lung vessels, which may require surgical intervention, angioplasty or drug therapies. A specialist opinion may also be needed to guide whether anticoagulants can be stopped or are required long-term to prevent recurrence.