How Serious Is Saddle Pulmonary Embolism?

Unexpected medical situations can happen at any time, and a saddle pulmonary embolism is one that needs help immediately. A pulmonary embolism is a potentially fatal condition brought on by a blood clot that travels from the deep veins of the legs to the lungs and becomes lodged in the pulmonary artery. In this post, we delve into the seriousness and prevention of saddle pulmonary embolism by exploring its causes, symptoms, and diagnosis, as well as the crucial need to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

What is a Pulmonary Embolism?

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage in one of the arteries in the lungs. A saddle pulmonary embolism occurs when a big blood clot becomes lodged in the primary pulmonary artery.

Most of the time, a blockage happens when a blood clot breaks off and moves from the large veins in your legs or other parts of your body to your lungs. Tumors, fatty tissue, and lung infections are other potential sources of pulmonary embolism. Saddle pulmonary embolism is an emergency situation that requires immediate medical treatment.

What is Saddle Pulmonary Embolism?

A saddle PE happens when a big blood clot, also called a thrombus, gets stuck at the place where the main pulmonary artery splits into two branches to supply each lung. Named so because its “saddles” over both artery branches, this clot can cause serious complications.

Only about 2% to 5% of all PEs are saddle PEs, which makes them a very rare type of PE. If left untreated, pulmonary edema (PE) can severely restrict blood flow to the lungs and even cause death.

A saddle PE is usually a bigger blood clot that is also unstable. This can make it more likely to break apart and cause blockages in the right and left pulmonary airways and other parts of the lungs.

Blood that has lost oxygen in the heart travels through the pulmonary arteries to the lungs, where it gets the oxygen, it needs to keep alive. One or more of the pulmonary arteries can become blocked by a saddle PE, leading to heart failure and eventually death.

What are the Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?

Saddle pulmonary embolism (PE) symptoms can vary depending on how bad they are and look like other health problems, so it’s important to recognize them and see a doctor. Because a saddle PE might prevent blood from reaching both lungs, it is a serious condition. Symptoms of a saddle pulmonary embolism:

Shortness of Breath

Dyspnea is one of the signs of saddle PE. Patients may have sudden and serious breathing problems even when they don’t exercise much. The effort often causes more shortness of breath than expected.

Chest Pain

Chest pain caused by the saddle PE is usually sharp and painful. It may get worse when you take deep breaths, cough, or move around. The pain might feel like a heart attack or something else that affects the chest.

Rapid Heartbeat (Tachycardia)

People with saddle PE often have a fast beat, or tachycardia. The body’s reaction to the blocked pulmonary artery’s decreased oxygen supply

Dry Cough

People with saddle PE may have a long-term cough. If the cough causes mucus that is red or pink, it means that there is blood in the lungs.

Dizziness or Fainting (synopsis)

An artery that is blocked lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can cause dizziness or fainting. The brain and body don’t get enough oxygen, which causes these symptoms.

Anxiety or Feeling Restless

Patients may feel very worried, restless, or like they are about to die. This is a reaction to a lack of oxygen and stress on the heart and blood vessels.

These signs could be indications of saddle PE, but they can also be signs of other health problems. If you think you might have a pulmonary embolism, you should see a doctor even if you have unusual or no symptoms.

How serious is this condition?

A saddle pulmonary embolism (PE) can block blood flow to both lungs, which is a dangerous and possibly life-threatening medical condition. The problem is serious because it can quickly and severely hurt a patient.

A large blood clot that blocks the pulmonary artery can cause sudden decline, cardiac instability, and a sharp drop in oxygen levels, which can lead to shortness of breath, chest pain, and even loss of consciousness. Because it affects organ and circulatory function, saddle PE can be fatal if neglected. However getting medical help immediately significantly decreases the chances of death and major side effects.

Even after treatment, the chance of chronic diseases like chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and a lower ability to exercise means that you will need to see a doctor regularly. It is very important to recognize the signs of saddle PE and get medical help. Saddle pulmonary embolisms (PEs) can be life-threatening but can be avoided with immediate medical care if the patient is in good health and the clot is small enough. If You have the symptoms, avoid the things that cause saddle PE.

What causes Saddle Pulmonary Embolism?

A saddle pulmonary embolism (PE) is caused by a blood clot that goes to the pulmonary artery and gets stuck where the main artery splits into the two main branches that go to each lung. The blood clot stops blood flow and may make it harder for the body to get oxygen. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can happen in the legs or thighs, is the most common cause of pulmonary embolism.

Here are the main reasons why blood clots and saddle pulmonary embolisms happen:

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Most cases of saddle pulmonary embolism are caused by blood clots that originate in the lower extremities or pelvis. Immobility, surgery, injury, or other conditions that modify blood clotting can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Traveling Clot

Eventually, the clot in the deep vein may break free and travel to other parts of the body via the circulatory system. It can get into the pulmonary artery and get stuck where it splits into two main branches that go to each lung. This is the barrier in the shape of a saddle.

Risk Factors

Some things make it more likely that you will get a blood clot or saddle pulmonary embolism. These include things like long trips or staying in bed for a long time, surgery (especially orthopedic or abdominal surgery), being overweight, smoking, a history of blood clots, cancer, clotting disorders, and hormone-based treatments like birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.


During pregnancy, changes in blood flow and pressure on pelvic and leg veins increase the risk of blood clots. This makes it more likely that you will get a DVT or a pulmonary embolism.

Inherited Clotting Disorders

Some people have inherited traits or have caught diseases that make their blood clot more easily. These conditions make you more likely to get a blood clot or pulmonary embolism.

Medical Procedure

Clots can be caused by surgical operations like angioplasty. Clots from catheters can go to the lungs.

To prevent problems and move quickly, you need to know about these causes and risk factors. If you have symptoms of saddle pulmonary embolism or are at risk, getting medical help right away can prevent major problems.

ALSO READ: Pulmonary Vascular Congestion-An-Overview

How do I Prevent it?

It’s not always possible to avoid getting saddle PE. It can happen for no clear reason or because of something, you can’t do anything about.

However, if you take care of the risk factors for blood clots, you may be able to lower your chance of saddle PE. You can do the following:

  • Don’t smoke or quit.
  • Don’t sit or lie down for long periods of time.
  • Exercise regularly,
  • Wear compression tights.
  • Check your blood pressure frequently.
  • Make sure your blood sugar is under control.

Treatment for Saddle Pulmonary Embolism

Saddle PE treatments include stabilizing the condition, stopping the clot from forming, and returning blood flow to the lungs. Saddle PE is a life-threatening emergency that needs to be treated immediately. Treatment is based on the patient’s health, the severity of their sickness, and other factors. The most important parts of treating saddle PE are:


Anticoagulants usually treat saddle PE initially. Drugs that keep blood from clotting and make people feel better Anticoagulants like aspirin and ibuprofen are often used.


When saddle PE is severe and blood flow to the lungs is low, thrombolytic treatment may be an option. Thrombolytics break up clots in the blood.

Embolectomy: Surgery to Remove a Clot

If other methods don’t work, surgery may be the only way to get rid of a clot in the pulmonary artery. Embolectomy uses special tools to get rid of blood clots. Embolectomy is only done on people who are at high risk and haven’t gotten better with other treatments.

The Oxygen Therapies

Patients with saddle PE have low blood oxygen levels because their lungs don’t work well. Low oxygen absorption can be treated, and oxygen levels can be raised with therapy.

Support that Helps

Supportive care includes giving IV water, keeping an eye on health indicators, and treating pain.

Hospitalization or Monitoring

Saddle PEs need to be closely monitored and cared for in the hospital. When a patient is hospitalized, doctors can see how they respond to medicine and change how they treat them.

The treatment depends on the patient’s health, the size of the clot, any damage to the lungs, and any other illnesses they have.


A saddle pulmonary embolism is a very serious medical issue that needs to be treated as soon as possible. It can cut off blood flow to both lungs at the same time, which could be deadly. To lessen the risks of this illness, it’s important to know the signs, get medical help immediately, and follow any precautions that have been taken. To protect yourself from the risks of a saddle pulmonary embolism, the most important things to think about are being aware, getting well-educated, and taking effective care of your health.

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