- PE is a life-threatening condition resulting from dislodged thrombi occluding the pulmonary vasculature; right heart failure and cardiac arrest may ensue if not aggressively treated.
- Virchow's triad of venous stasis, vessel wall damage, and hypercoagulability reflect the underlying pathophysiology.
- Symptoms include chest pain (88%), dyspnoea (84%), and a sense of apprehension (59%). Syncope occurs in 13% of cases, and is strongly associated with increased clot burden.
- Signs include tachypnoea (respiratory rate >16 breaths per minute) (92%), fever >37.8°C (100.0°F) (43%), and heart rate >100 bpm (44%).
- Definitive diagnostic modalities of exclusion/confirmation include D-dimer, multiple-detectors computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA) of chest, ventilation perfusion (V/Q) scan, and pulmonary angiography.
- Acute treatment includes thrombolysis, surgical embolectomy, inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement, and heparin administration; warfarin is the long-term anticoagulant of choice.
Other related conditions
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Unstable angina
- Non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction
- ST-elevation myocardial infarction
- Overview of acute coronary syndrome
- Community-acquired pneumonia
- Assessment of pleuritis
- Acute bronchitis
- Acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Acute asthma exacerbation in adults
- Acute exacerbation of congestive heart failure
- Cardiac tamponade
- Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension
- Rib fractures
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
- Panic disorders
- Cardiac arrest
- Antiphospholipid syndrome
Last updated: Jan 07, 2013