Pulmonary Embolism Recovery:
Life After a Pulmonary Embolism

Having a pulmonary embolism (PE) can be a shocking and traumatic experience. In addition to dealing with what can be a very painful condition, you may also feel scared about how it could affect your health and worried that it could happen again. If it’s not your first PE, you may even feel angry or frustrated that blood clots are still a problem for you. But we hope that providing some answers to common questions and concerns may help you face the next few months with more confidence.

  • How long will I have to take a blood thinner?
    • The typical duration of treatment for a PE is at least six months. Depending on your risk factors, your healthcare professional may recommend a shorter or longer duration of treatment. If your risk factors put you at ongoing risk for multiple PEs, your healthcare professional may recommend that you stay on a blood thinner like XARELTO®.
  • How do I know if I’m on the right blood thinner?
    • You may have been prescribed a blood thinner in the doctor’s office or hospital, but it’s not too late to understand all your options. Take a look at how different blood thinners compare for treating a PE, and talk to your healthcare professional if you’d like to switch.

  • When will my chest stop hurting?
    • Most people will start feeling better within a few days after starting treatment with a blood thinner. But a small percentage of people who have had a PE will experience pulmonary hypertension due to damage caused by the PE. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include continued shortness of breath and not being able to exercise at the level you did before your PE. If you had a large PE or have not started feeling better after a few weeks, your healthcare professional will probably screen you for pulmonary hypertension.
  • When can I get back to being active?
    • Everyone’s comfort level is different after a PE. You could feel better very quickly and feel like resuming your daily activities, or you may need more time to rest and recover. Listen to your body and discuss your level of physical activity with your healthcare professional.
  • What else can I do to make adjusting to life after a PE easier?
    • You may be experiencing stress, anxiety, or fear of having another PE. This is completely normal, and often these feelings subside after a while. Leaning on friends and family during your recovery can help, as can reaching out to other people going through the same thing. Read more about caring for your well-being after a PE, or check out some support groups.
  • This is not the first time I’ve had a PE. What does that mean?

I think I was more scared before I knew than once they finally told me.

Hear Tiffany and Barry share their experiences having a PE.