Skip to content

    Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Pulmonary Embolism - Cause

    Pulmonary embolism is caused by a blocked artery in the lungs. The most common cause of such a blockage is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in the leg and travels to the lungs, where it becomes lodged in a smaller lung artery.

    Almost all blood clots that cause pulmonary embolism are formed in the deep leg veins. Clots also can form in the deep veins of the arms or pelvis.

    Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

    COPD Stages and Treatments

    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease mainly caused by smoking. You can also get it from long-term exposure to air pollution, dust, and chemical fumes. It causes the airways in your lungs to inflame and thicken. You’ll have trouble breathing and you’ll cough often, or cough up mucus. You’ll probably wheeze a lot, and you could feel tired all the time. Your lips or fingernails might turn blue because of a lack of oxygen. But your doctor has ways to manage your disease and...

    Read the COPD Stages and Treatments article > >

    Sometimes blood clots develop in surface veins. But these clots rarely lead to pulmonary embolism.

    In rare cases, pulmonary embolism may be caused by other substances, including:

    • Small masses of infectious material.
    • Fat, which can be released into the bloodstream after some types of bone fractures, surgery, trauma, or severe burns.
    • Air bubbles or substances that get into the blood from trauma, surgery, or medical procedures.
    • Tumors caused by rapidly growing cancer cells.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    You may not even know you have it.
    blood clot
    Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
     
    man coughing
    When a cold becomes bronchitis.
    human lungs
    Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
     

    chest x-ray
    Slideshow
    Bronchitis Overview
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Copd Myth Fact Quiz
    QUIZ
    Energy Boosting Foods
    SLIDESHOW
     

    lungs
    Article
    smokestacks
    Article
     
    woman coughing
    Article
    Lung xray and caduceus
    Article