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Discharge Instructions for Pulmonary Embolism

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a large vein deep in a leg, arm, or elsewhere in the body. The clot can separate from the vein, travel to the lungs and cut off blood flow. This is a pulmonary embolism (PE). Symptoms can quickly develop and cause life-threatening heart and lung problems.

Health care providers use the term venous thromboembolism (VTE) to describe both DVT and PE. They use the term VTE because the two conditions are very closely related. And, because their prevention and treatment are closely related. 

Home care

Taking care of yourself is very important. To help prevent problems follow your health care provider's instructions. You should:

  • Take your medications exactly as instructed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Have all lab tests as recommended.

  • If prescribed, wear elastic (compression stockings).

  • Get up and get moving.

  • While sitting for long periods of time, move your knees, ankles, feet, and toes.

Lifestyle changes

  • If you smoke, think about quitting. Talk with your health care provider about medications and programs that can help.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your provider about losing weight, if you are overweight

  • Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. Before starting an exercise program, talk with your health care provider. 

  • When traveling by car, make frequent stops to get up and move around.

  • On long airplane rides, get up and move around when possible. If you can’t get up, wiggle your toes, move your ankles and tighten your calves to keep your blood moving.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

 

 

When to seek medical care

Call 911 or seek emergency help if you have symptoms of a pulmonary embolism including: 

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Coughing up blood

  • Fainting

  • Blue color to skin, especially on the face

  • Dizziness

  • Rapid, pounding, or unusual heartbeat

  • Sweating more than usual

  • Unusual swelling or pain in your leg, arm, or other area (symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis)

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 3/31/2015
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.