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Discharge Instructions for Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when an embolus (clot) in the bloodstream travels through the heart and into the lungs. If the embolus becomes lodged in a blood vessel in the lungs, blood flow can be blocked. Symptoms can quickly develop and cause life-threatening heart and lung problems.

Home Care

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

  • Ask your doctor about daily aspirin therapy.

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, unless directed otherwise.

  • Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor which readings mean that you need medical attention.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Avoid sitting, standing, or lying down for long periods without moving your legs and feet.

  • When traveling by car, stop to get out and move around at least once every three hours. On long airplane, train, or bus rides, get up and move around when possible. If you can’t get up, wiggle your toes and tighten your calves to keep your blood moving.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds.

  • If you are a smoker, break the smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.

  • Be active. Begin an exercise program. Ask your doctor how to get started. You can benefit from simple activities such as walking or gardening.


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

Call the healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain (call 911)

  • Trouble breathing (call 911)

  • Coughing up blood (call 911)

  • Fainting (call 911)

  • Skin turns blue (call 911)

  • Dizziness

  • Rapid, pounding, or unusual heartbeat

  • Sweating more than usual

  • Unusual swelling or pain in your leg


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