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Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a condition which arises when blood clots form, usually in the legs or sometimes the pelvis, and break off and pass through the venous circulation and impact in the lungs. This can cause breathlessness, chest pain and the coughing up of blood. Large blood clots can cause serious symptoms by stopping the circulation.

These blood clots in the leg commonly develop during surgical procedures, after fractures, when there is immobility, in pregnancy, or in advanced cancer. They also tend to occur in people with rare genetic diseases which affect blood clotting. However in many cases, possibly about half, no cause can be identified. In hospital treatment is given to help prevent the development of such blood clots in the legs (deep venous thrombosis) during surgical procedures or when patients are immobile.. Diagnosis depends upon a clinical examination and a variety of tests depending on the particular circumstances. Treatment is with a variety of blood thinning agents, and most commonly Warfarin