Pulmonary Embolism Recovery

Pulmonary Embolism Recovery

What to Expect While Recovering from a Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism recovery varies a great deal from patient to patient with some recovering within days while others taking years. A pulmonary embolism is serious and potentially life-threatening as the clot can cause long-term or permanent damage to the lungs and heart. Many factors affect recovery and the process is unique to each person. This general information will help you understand what you can expect.

What Affects Pulmonary Embolism Recovery Time?

How long it takes to recover from a pulmonary embolism (PE) depends on how long the clots existed before they were treated, whether you have had blood clots before, and the severity of the clot. Bilateral pulmonary embolism recovery time, for example, is longer than an acute embolism as there are blood clots in each lung. Everyone also heals at a different rate. While some people recover within a few days if the embolism is discovered and treated quickly, the average recovery takes months. The most severe cases can involve years of recovery.

Around 10% of PE patients say they feel recovered in less than 4 weeks, and it takes two years for about 70% to say they have recovered fully.

Pulmonary Embolism Recovery and Exercise

Your doctor will advise you when it’s safe to begin exercising again after a pulmonary embolism. For months or even years, you may find you get tired more often. A few hours of light gardening or walking may leave you exhausted. While even light exercise can be very challenging at first, physical activity will decrease your chances of additional clots. Listen to your body and exercise as you feel able to, even if you can only walk to the mailbox at first.

What to Expect

Recovering from a pulmonary embolism often has ups and downs with symptoms that come and go. Depending on the severity of damage to organs and tissue, you may experience chest pain, low endurance, anxiety, and depression. You may get fatigued very easily and have trouble performing daily activities for the first few weeks or months.

Life after a pulmonary embolism may be challenging at first and it’s not uncommon to experience flare-ups of symptoms, especially during exercise, in a damp climate, or during periods of stress. No two days will be the same; you may feel fine one day and experience symptoms the next.

Make sure you track any symptoms you experience to discuss with your doctor. Follow-up care during recovery is important to watch for signs of a recurrent blood clot. Depression and anxiety are common during recovery; discuss this with your doctor as counseling and/or medication may help.


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