Discharge Instructions for Pulmonary Embolism

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a large vein deep in a leg, arm, or elsewhere in the body. The clot can separate from the vein, travel to the lungs, and cut off blood flow. This is a pulmonary embolism (PE). Pulmonary embolism is very serious and may cause death if the clot is large or there are multiple clots. 

Home care

Taking care of yourself is very important. To help prevent more blood clots from forming, follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Do the following:

  • Take your medicines exactly as instructed. Don’t skip doses. If you miss a dose, call your healthcare provider and ask what you should do.

  • Have all lab tests as recommended. This is very important when you take medicines to prevent blood clots. 

  • If your healthcare provider has instructed you to do so, wear elastic (compression stockings).

  • Get up and get moving.

  • While sitting for long periods of time, move your knees, ankles, feet, and toes.

Lifestyle changes

To help prevent problems with your heart and blood vessels, do the following: 

  • If you smoke, get help to quit. Talk with your healthcare provider about medicines and programs that can help.

  • Stay at a healthy weight. If you are overweight, talk to your healthcare provider about losing weight.

  • Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. Before starting an exercise program, talk with your healthcare provider.

  • When traveling by car, make frequent stops to get up and move around.

  • On long airplane rides, get up and move around when possible. If you can’t get up, wiggle your toes, move your ankles, and tighten your calves to keep your blood moving.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed. Have your lab work done as directed.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • Pain, swelling, and redness in your leg, arm, or other body area. These symptoms may mean another blood clot.

  • Blood in your urine

  • Bleeding with bowel movements

  • Bleeding from the nose, gums, a cut, or vagina

Call 911

Call  911 if you have symptoms of a blood clot in the lungs: 

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Coughing (may cough up blood)

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Sweating

  • Fainting

Also call 911 if you have heavy or uncontrolled bleeding. If you are taking a blood thinner, you have an increased chance of bleeding.

© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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