Pulmonary embolism is the most devastating complication of deep venous thrombosis, accounting for up to 150 000 deaths annually in the United States, with 285 000 to 600 000 cases recorded annually. Venous thrombosis is generally asymptomatic at the time of presentation with pulmonary embolism. Since death occurs within 30 min of embolization in two-thirds of fatal cases, clinical suspicion and efficient diagnosis and treatment are of paramount importance. In patients properly diagnosed and treated for pulmonary embolism, the mortality approaches 10 per cent.
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