What are hemodynamic consequences of pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Pulmonary embolism reduces the cross-sectional area of the pulmonary vascular bed, resulting in an increment in pulmonary vascular resistance, which, in turn, increases the right ventricular afterload. If the afterload is increased severely, right ventricular failure may ensue. In addition, the humoral and reflex mechanisms contribute to the pulmonary arterial constriction. Following the initiation of anticoagulant therapy, the resolution of emboli usually occurs rapidly during the first 2 weeks of therapy; however, it can persist on chest imaging studies for months to years. Chronic pulmonary hypertension may occur with failure of the initial embolus to undergo lyses or in the setting of recurrent thromboemboli.


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