Health & Balance

How Long Before A Pulmonary Embolism Kills You [And Why]?

how long before a pulmonary embolism kills you

Health is a treasure that needs safekeeping and utmost protection. To live a healthy life, you need to ensure all the diseases and conditions are prevented from the root.

However, there are some diseases that can nudge silently into the body without knocking on doors. Pulmonary Embolism is one of those conditions that does not let you know very easily. This disease can become severe and life-threatening as well. 

If you are here, you are also looking for the answer to how long before a pulmonary embolism kills you. Well, this condition mostly affects the lungs first and then all the other body parts.

Multiple arteries in the lung get blocked by blood clots. You need to identify the symptoms and get them treated as fast as possible. Here you will find out how long it takes for this condition to become deadly. 

What Is Pulmonary Embolism?  

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by blood clots. Typically, these clots originate in the deep veins of the legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and then travel to the lungs.

The blockage restricts blood flow to a portion of the lung, leading to various symptoms:

  • Including sudden shortness of breath,

  • Chest pain that may become worse with breathing,

  • A rapid heart rate, and

  • Sometimes, cough that may produce bloody or blood-streaked sputum.

In severe cases, PE can result in respiratory failure, shock, and even death.

Risk factors for pulmonary embolism include

  • A history of DVT,

  • Surgery,

  • Prolonged immobility,

  • Cancer,

  • Smoking,

  • Obesity, and

  • Certain genetic conditions that affect blood clotting.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment, often involving anticoagulant medications, are crucial to prevent complications and improve outcomes for individuals with pulmonary embolism. Symptoms should never be ignored, and immediate medical attention is essential if PE is suspected.

How Long Before A Pulmonary Embolism Kills You? 

How Long Before A Pulmonary Embolism Kills You 

Let’s jump to find out how long can you live with pulmonary embolism. It completely differs from one person to another based on many different thighs, such as the severity of the condition, treatment, age, medical history, lifestyle, and others. As mentioned above, this is a serious and severe disease that needs proper treatment and medication

If a patient with pulmonary embolism stays without treatment or medicine, it can succumb to the patient within 1-3 months. As a result, nearly 40-50 million pulmonary embolism cases pop up around the globe every year. However, if someone detected the symptoms at the early stage or the condition is not critical, then it can be treated within days and weeks. 

On the other hand, patients with a critical condition must go through emergency treatment. The main reason for this disease is the blood clot that travels through the body from the lower part. The blood can be diagnosed using blood thinners and other medicines if the condition is not severe yet. Blood thinners help to break the blood clot and resolve this condition. 

According to reports, most blood clots that cause pulmonary embolism have their root in the leg veins. But it can also affect other parts of the lungs as well. Blood flow restrictions will cause the oxygen to decrease and cause breathing issues. So, this is not a condition that you need to take lightly. If you take a long time to get treatment, then 1-3 weeks are how long before a pulmonary embolism kills you

Why Pulmonary Embolism Becomes Life-threatening?

Pulmonary Embolism is a deadly disease that can become fatal if not treated. Most of the patients who stay untreated and undiagnosed do not live much longer. This condition directly affects the lungs and causes breathing issues. Apart from breathing issues, there are many other symptoms that you can detect. 

The blood clots start with normal size but enlarge with time and start to spread through all body parts. The most common places where blood clots first strike are legs and arms. Then, it slowly goes toward the lungs and causes chest pain, breathing shortness, and other effects. How long do you have before a pulmonary embolism kills you completely depends on how fast you are treating it. 

If you are chicken-hearted, then you might have a chance to get cardiac arrest as well. To make sure you are safe and prevent this condition from becoming severe, you will need to change your lifestyle. Eating habits are one of the most common things that can make pulmonary embolism life-threatening. 

If you are wondering how long before a pulmonary embolism kills you, you will need to make sure that you have good eating habits. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and other things can make the condition severe. Along with early treatment, you will need to follow a diet chart to get the best result and stay out of harm’s way. Taking medicines from the early stage also helps to prevent the condition from becoming deadly. 

So, there are plenty of reasons available why a pulmonary embolism can kill you. However, the most common reason is ignoring the condition and the symptoms along with keeping it untreated.

Complications of Pulmonary Embolism 

Pulmonary embolism (PE) can lead to various complications, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Common complications include:

1. Pulmonary Infarction: In severe cases, the lack of blood supply to the lungs can cause tissue damage, leading to pulmonary infarction.

2. Pulmonary Hypertension: Chronic clotting or recurrent emboli may contribute to increased blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, known as pulmonary hypertension

3. Right Heart Strain: PE can strain the right side of the heart, potentially leading to right ventricular dysfunction.

4. Respiratory Failure: Large or multiple clots can severely compromise lung function, resulting in respiratory failure.

5. Death: In cases of massive pulmonary embolism, especially when not promptly treated, there is a risk of fatal outcomes.

 Prevention of Pulmonary Embolism 

Preventing pulmonary embolism involves addressing risk factors and adopting measures to minimize the likelihood of blood clot formation. Key preventive strategies include:

1. Anticoagulant Medications: Especially for individuals at high risk, anticoagulants may be prescribed to prevent blood clot formation.

2. Compression Stockings: These can help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by promoting blood circulation in the legs.

3. Early Ambulation: Encouraging movement and avoiding prolonged immobility, particularly after surgery or during long flights, helps prevent clot formation.

4. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated supports optimal blood circulation and reduces the risk of clotting.

5. Smoking Cessation: Smoking increases the risk of blood clot formation, so quitting smoking is crucial for prevention.

6. Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity promotes overall cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of clot formation.

Individuals with specific risk factors, such as a history of DVT or certain medical conditions, should work closely with healthcare professionals to develop personalized prevention plans.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Q1. How Fast Can You Die From Pulmonary Embolism? 

According to studies, pulmonary embolism is fatal for around 25% of patients. Nearly 10-30% of people tend to perish in the first month. Some patients also visit the hospital with some symptoms and never leave. After having symptoms for days and even hours, the condition can become fatal. 

Q2. How Long Can You Have Pulmonary Embolism And Not Know It? 

There are plenty of symptoms commonly seen with PE, but not all of them are not visible to everyone. While some people get the symptoms early, others do not get any symptoms at all early stages. Some of the common symptoms like breathing shortness, mils pressure, and pain in the chest, and others can stay more than 6 weeks. Taking a deep breath will help you to pinpoint any shortness of breath. 

Q3. Does Pulmonary Embolism Kill You Instantly?

Pulmonary embolism rides through the bloodstream and reaches the lungs. Then, it becomes lodged with lung arteries. This condition is known to be a pulmonary embolism. If the Pulmonary embolism is large in size, then it can cause instant cardiac arrest. 

Q4. Can You Live A Normal Life With Pulmonary Embolism? 

Most people diagnosed with PE recover fully within weeks to months after starting their treatment. Also, most of the patients do not have any long-term side effects. However, around 33% of people with blood clots have an increased risk of developing another one in 10 years. 


Pulmonary Embolism is one of the most serious and deadliest conditions that can become fatal if not treated early. Although it comes with some symptoms and side effects, there are patients who do not develop any symptoms in the early stages. 

You can find how long before a pulmonary embolism kills you from this article, along with the reason. If this article has helped you, then make sure to share it with others and help them to get a better understanding of this condition. 

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