Heart & Blood Condition

Expert reports about Heart & Blood Condition


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE PULMONARY EMBOLISM (PE) DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

                                                                                                                                                

What is a pulmonary embolism during pregnancy?

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is an obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs caused by an embolus, something that has traveled through the bloodstream. In the case of a PE, the embolus that causes the embolism usually is a traveling blood clot that has broken off from a venous thrombosis, a non-traveling clot located either in a deep vein in a leg (deep venous thrombosis [DVT]) or the pelvis (central venous thrombosis [CVT]). This can happen in pregnancy, due to the growing womb raising the pressure inside the pelvis, causing the right iliac artery to push a deep vein called the left iliac vein against the lower spine. The combination of blood flow obstruction and increased clotting tendency that occurs in pregnancy makes venous thrombosis particularly likely at certain points in pregnancy, such as the late first trimester and again around the time of delivery. PE thus can occur as a severe complication of such a venous thrombosis. The term venous thromboembolism (VTE) is used to encompass both DVT and CVT and any embolism complications, including PE.


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