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Pulmonary Embolism (cont.)

Pulmonary Embolism Prognosis

The prognosis of people with pulmonary embolism depends on many factors. First and perhaps most significant is the size and location of the clot. The bigger the clot and the larger the blood vessel that is blocked, the more serious the condition is. The outlook may be poor with big clots or clots blocking larger blood vessels, especially if they are not diagnosed and treated quickly.

  • Some people may die immediately when a blood clot breaks loose and goes to the lung. Still others die in a short time period because of inability to get oxygen into the blood or from blood pressure collapse.
  • Those who do survive the initial episode and who are able to receive appropriate treatment generally do well.
  • People with pulmonary embolisms are usually hospitalized for several days until their blood can be adequately thinned. Then they are maintained on blood thinning medication for 6 months or longer. Some patients require life-long medication while others may require a filter surgically placed in the vena cava to prevent large clots from reaching the lungs. These filters are placed in the inferior vena cava, and currently many are of the removable variety. These may be indicated especially in the case where a patient needs surgery or is bleeding and unable to receive blood thinners.

CT Scan Machine Picture

CT scan machine.
CT scan machine. Click to view larger image.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease


MedscapeReference. Pulmonary Embolism.

MedicineNet. Pulmonary Embolism.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017

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