Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms

By kara
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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3. Shortness of Breath

Also called dyspnea, shortness of breath due to a pulmonary embolism can occur very suddenly. This is another symptom that a PE has in common with a heart attack and can make it very difficult to differentiate the two without the aid of medical imaging and other diagnostics. Shortness of breath that gets worse with physical activity is called dyspnea on exertion. Though this can also occur with a heart attack, it is always present in cases of pulmonary embolism.

Patients who have chronic lung illnesses may attribute shortness of breath to the pre-existing condition and not recognize it as a sign of a PE. For example, one patient reported initially attributing her acute breathing difficulties to her asthma, which can also cause sudden shortness of breath and dyspnea on exertion. It was ultimately discovered, however, that a pulmonary embolism was to blame.

Pulmonary Embolism

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