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Pulmonary Embolism Causes

A pulmonary embolism causes restrictions of blood flow through one or more of the arteries that serves the lungs. It is a serious condition that may lead to death or the permanent impairment of the lungs’ ability to provide oxygen to the rest of the body. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a clot, which usually forms in the lower extremities, travels through the vascular system to the lungs. This clot can be caused by anything that prevents blood from circulating properly, such as pieces of a tumor or air bubbles. However, in the vast majority of cases, a blood clot that has formed in the legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), breaks free and causes a pulmonary embolism.

To schedule an appointment with the Heart and Vascular Institute, call 813-844-3900 or email

While anyone can develop DVT and a pulmonary embolism, there are specific risk factors that elevate the chances of this condition occurring, including:

  • Medical history – Patients with a family history of blood clots are at a higher risk of developing DVT as are those with a history of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
  • Prolonged immobility – Blood clots are more likely to form during periods of inactivity due to decreased circulation.
  • Surgery – This is one of the leading causes of blood clots and is especially a concern during joint replacement surgeries.
  • Other factors – Some other known DVT and pulmonary embolism causes include smoking, obesity, pregnancy, and supplemental estrogen.

When it comes to diseases of the vascular system, the multispecialty team at Tampa General Hospital is on the leading-edge of detection and treatment. We provide life-saving surgical intervention, such as thrombolysis, for patients with a pulmonary embolism. Plus, at our ultrasound vascular laboratory, we utilize advanced diagnostic methods, such as peripheral venous testing, to detect DVT and can use that information to help prevent life-threatening embolisms.