Blood Clot in Lung: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism

Signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism

The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism can be similar to those of a heart attack, and the pathophysiology is similar, too, but located in the lungs instead of the heart. The most common symptoms are sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, and leg swelling. Sometimes these symptoms are so severe that you may even think you have a heart attack.

Pulmonary embolism has a wide range of clinical manifestations, including not only pain but also cough, hemoptysis, fever, tachycardia, and tachypnoea. Thus, when a patient with deep vein thrombosis presents with shortness of breath or chest pain, a high suspicion of pulmonary embolism should be considered.

However, pulmonary embolism is often misdiagnosed because the signs and symptoms are nonspecific and can be mistaken for other conditions such as pneumonia, myocardial infarction, asthma, acute coronary syndrome, acute aortic dissection, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia. In some cases, patients may even be discharged before being correctly diagnosed.

The symptoms are not always severe. In fact, 40% of patients who die from a pulmonary embolism have a medical history of doctor visits a few weeks before their death with nonspecific respiratory symptoms that feel like a respiratory infection. Thus, do not expect all pulmonary embolism cases to present with the classic sudden onset and severe pain in the chest that feels like a heart attack with shortness of breath and cough.