Life Expectancy After Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a dangerous acute condition. In this blog, we will look at life expectancy after a pulmonary embolism (PE). We will discuss the factors that influence survival rates, including the severity of the embolism, the patient's overall health, and the treatment received. We will also review the strategies that can improve life expectancy, such as anticoagulant therapy, thrombolytic therapy, surgical embolectomy, and the use of new oral anticoagulants.
Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub Gwiazdecki

Fifth year medical student at the Medical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava.

A blue image with text saying "Life Expectancy After Pulmonary Embolism"

Life expectancy after pulmonary embolism

In a study involving 900 patients after pulmonary embolism, the one-year mortality reached 20%. After 5 years, this number of deaths had grown to 37% [1]. Out of the patients after surgical treatment, nearly 77% lived for more than 5 years. However, only 51% lived longer than 8 years.

Life expectancy after a pulmonary embolism (PE) depends on many factors. The biggest impact on the future life of the patient is the general health status, the degree of the embolism, and the treatment. The life expectancy can be influenced by age and chronic diseases like heart failure or anemia [1].

Factors influencing the life expectancy after PE include:

  • patient's age - individuals over 65 have a higher risk of mortality after PE [2].
  • comorbidities - malignant neoplasm, chronic lung disease, or diabetes negatively influence life expectancy and prognosis [2, 3].
  • severity of the PE [4].
  • type of treatment received
  • repeated pulmonary embolism - The more often a PE happens, the more damaged the lungs become. However, a good therapy prevents the recurrence of 70% of PE in 10 years past the primary embolization [5].
  • Patient's quality of life following a PE influences their life expectancy [7].

How to improve life expectancy after pulmonary embolism?

One of the key factors in the life expectancy of PE is management. Good treatment can significantly lower the risk of death.

The primary therapy in PE is administration of anticoagulants. These can reduce the risk of death and recurrent venous thromboembolism after a first pulmonary embolism [8].

Both the old anticoagulation drugs, such as low-molecular-weight heparin, and the new ones, such as rivaroxaban, have a similar effectiveness [9]. However, newer anticoagulants tend to have fewer bleeding complications during the treatment [10]. The duration and type of anticoagulation therapy have to be adjusted to individual risk factors.

In some cases, thrombolytic therapy or surgical embolectomy can be effective treatment methods. However, both of these methods have their risks, so they should be chosen carefully. The success rate for a group of patients treated with interventional methods was 47%, while the mortality rate was nearly 15% [12].

Patients after PE should pay special attention to their life quality. Important aspects that contribute to overall well-being are rehabilitation and good stress management [11].

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Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub is in his fifth year as a medical student at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. He has special interested in cardiology and in patient-centered medicine. His love for heart health isn't just book-smarts; he wants to know how it works, what it means for our feelings, and how key it is for health and happiness. Jakub thinks real good health care comes from always putting the patient at the centre, treating each person as a whole.