Pulmonary embolism
The obstruction of the pulmonary artery or a branch of it leading to the lungs by a blood clot, usually from the leg, or foreign material causing sudden closure of the vessel. (Embolus is from the Greek "embolos" meaning plug.) The risk factors for pulmonary embolism include advanced age, cancer, genetic predisposition, immobilization (especially in the hospital), pelvic or leg trauma, pregnancy, and surgery. The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism can be difficult because the symptoms are nonspecific and may mimic many other diseases. Pulmonary angiography is the gold standard test. Other tests may include oximetry and arterial blood gas analysis and imaging such as chest x-rays and ultrasonography. The treatment includes anticoagulants such as heparin and warfarin (Coumadin). About 10- 15% of patients with pulmonary embolism die.

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pulmonary embolism n embolism of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches that is produced by foreign matter and most often a blood clot originating in a vein of the leg or pelvis and that is marked by labored breathing, chest pain, fainting, rapid heart rate, cyanosis, shock, and sometimes death abbr. PE

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obstruction of the pulmonary artery or one of its branches by an embolus, usually a blood clot derived from phlebothrombosis of the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis). Large pulmonary emboli result in acute heart failure or sudden death. Smaller emboli cause death of sections of lung tissue, pleurisy, and haemoptysis (coughing of blood). Minor pulmonary emboli respond to the anticoagulant drugs heparin and warfarin. Major pulmonary embolism is treated by embolectomy or by dissolution of the blood clot with an infusion of streptokinase. Recurrent pulmonary embolism may result in pulmonary hypertension.

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(PE) the closure of the pulmonary artery or one of its branches by an embolus, sometimes associated with pulmonary infarction (q.v.).

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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