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JAMA Patient Page
July 7, 2015

Treatment Duration for Pulmonary Embolism

JAMA. 2015;314(1):98. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7431

The type and duration of treatment for pulmonary embolism can vary from person to person.

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the presence of a blood clot (embolus) that blocks an artery in the lungs. Usually the clot comes from a piece of another blood clot inside a vein of the legs (deep vein thrombosis [DVT]) that has broken off and traveled to the lungs. Pulmonary emboli can range from very small and causing no symptoms to very large and causing symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness. Some large pulmonary emboli can be fatal.

Blood-thinning medication is the main treatment for PE. How long to thin the blood depends on where the clot that went to the lung came from and why it formed.