A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot breaks free from its site of origin and travels to the lungs, forming a blockage in artery.

Symptoms of PE include chest pain, shortness of breath, severe cough, coughing up of blood and even sudden death.

Pulmonary embolism is the major concern for patients experiencing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).


The following are the most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently:

  • Sudden shortness of breath (most common)
  • Chest pain, usually worse with breathing
  • A feeling of anxiety
  • A feeling of dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Palpitations and heart rarcing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Sweating
  • Low blood pressure

You may or may not have these symptoms should a pulmonary embolism occur. Usually, if PE is suspected, the physician will check your legs for evidence of a deep vein thrombosis. The type and extent of symptoms of a pulmonary embolism will depend on the size of the embolism and whether the person already has existing heart and/or lung problems. The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.