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Pulmonary Embolism Causes & Risks


An embolism occurs when a clot moves through the bloodstream from the location where it was formed and becomes stuck in a blood vessel. An embolus, can be a blood clot, air bubble, or piece of fat, bone marrow, or tumor tissue.

The embolus in a pulmonary embolism is usually a blood clot. A blood clot that forms and remains in a vein is called a thrombus. It most often starts in a vein in the legs or pelvis.

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing pulmonary embolism. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Blood clot in a deep vein of a leg or pelvis
  • Increased levels of clotting factors in the blood. Usually caused by cancer (eg, pancreatic)
  • Prolonged bed rest, such as during a serious illness
  • Major surgery, especially after pelvic surgery, knee replacement, or heart surgery
  • Injury to a vein in a leg or pelvis
  • Fractures of the hip or thigh bone (femur)
  • Heart attack , stroke
  • Certain blood disorders
  • Prolonged sitting, such as during a long trip
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2016 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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Pulmonary Embolism Guide

Alison Beaver

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