Is it normal to have trouble breathing and chest pain after successful treatment of a pulmonary embolism?

Might these symptoms reflect anxiety over the pulmonary embolism, or is it more likely that this means you have a new blood clot in your lung?

What a Doctor Says…

For this article I consulted with Seyed-Mojtaba Gashti, MD, a board certified vascular surgeon with Broward Health Medical Center in Florida.

Dr. Gashti explains, “If you are diagnosed with a DVT and a pulmonary embolism and being treated for it with systemic anticoagulation, and you are therapeutic on Heparin or Coumadin, the chance of having recurrent pulmonary embolism is low, but not zero.

“So recurrent symptoms mandate new diagnostic workup—most likely a chest CT, and if recurrent PE is confirmed, patient has to have an IVC filter because this constitutes ‘failure of treatment,’ one of the indications to insert a filter.”

IVC stands for inferior vena cava. This is a large vein that carries blood into the lungs so that it can be re-oxygenated.

How long does the filter to prevent a pulmonary embolus stay in place?

Dr. Gashti explains, “If they suffer a PE, first or recurrent, while being anti-coagulated and therapeutic on their Coumadin, then this is a case of failure of therapy, and in most cases you would not remove their filter—it would be permanent.

“Having said this, you also need to look at the patient. If they are young and if their deep vein thrombosis was provoked, you may consider removing the filter but need to be careful with this. In any case, with current filters, the longest they can stay before having to be removed is 365 days.”

Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism

In addition to sudden chest pain, the patient may experience a sudden difficulty with breathing or getting air in, or may even pass out. Coughing up blood is another possible symptom of a pulmonary embolism.

Dr. Gashti specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease including abdominal and aortic aneurysm.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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