Pulmonary Embolism Causes

Blood Clots: The Leading Cause of Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when an artery in the lung becomes blocked and blood clots are what causes a pulmonary embolism in most cases. Depending on the size of the blood clot, a pulmonary embolism may result in slight lung damage or it may cause death, if not treated immediately.

Pulmonary Embolism Causes

The most common type of blood clot that causes a pulmonary embolism is known as deep vein thrombosis, in which a clot originates in the deep veins of one part of the body and moves to the lung. The type of deep vein thrombosis most often seen in pulmonary embolism cases is leg and lung blood clots that move from the deep veins of the leg to the lung. Deep vein thrombosis can sometimes originate in the arm, as well.

Other materials may also cause a blockage in the lung’s artery, including air bubbles, marrow leaking from a broken bone, or part of a tumor. However, these causes of pulmonary embolism are rare.

There are several pulmonary embolism risk factors that are also risk factors for developing blood clots. People who have several of these risk factors should make sure to recognize the symptoms of blood clots and get medical attention right away if any symptoms arise. The following are some of the risk factors for blood clots leading to pulmonary embolism:

  • Having to stay still for long periods of time, such as after having major surgery, being on a long flight or car ride, or sitting for work
  • Pulmonary embolism family history
  • Certain diseases, such as cancer, heart disease or history of stroke
  • Surgery recently performed on the hips, brain, legs or stomach
  • Being pregnant or having a C-section during labor
  • Using birth control pills
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a blood clotting disorder

Usually when someone suffers from a pulmonary embolism, there is more than one blood clot causing the embolism. Sometimes the clots affect the lungs at different times and sometimes the clots affect the lungs all at once. When this happens, each blood clot blocks an artery and denies the lungs the oxygen that is required to keep a person alive. This specific case is known as pulmonary infarction and can cause the lungs to not be able to provide oxygen to other parts of the body.