Last Updated on Jul 26, 2012

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pulmonary embolism symptoms are very vague; hence it is likely that experts identify the problem as anxiety rather than PE.

The symptoms of pulmonary embolism are very vague yet they are unmistakably present. They include

  • Unexplained shortness of breath (most common symptom)
  • Chest discomfort which usually becomes worse when the individual takes a deep breath or coughs
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Blacking out

Most patients know that something is not right, yet they have a problem describing their uneasiness. Also the pulmonary embolism symptoms are very vague; hence it is likely that experts identify the problem as anxiety rather than PE.

When a patient is brought in, the doctor checks the heart, lungs and legs of the patient and measures the blood pressure, pulse rate and breathing rate. An ECG and chest x-ray are often taken.

The most commonly used diagnostic test for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is the venous ultrasound examination which is a non-invasive procedure. Another test used to establish PE diagnosis is the rapid-speed chest computed tomography (CT) scan. This directly captures the images of the blood clots that block the pulmonary artery.

A blood test that is done to screen PE is the D-dimer test. If this test is normal, it is highly unlikely that the person has PE.

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