March 19, 2018

Background: Pulmonary embolism is the leading cause of death in pregnancy and the puerperium - accounting for nearly 20% of maternal deaths in the United States - making rapid and accurate diagnosis critically important for emergency physicians, OB/GYNs, and all who take care of these women on a regular basis. Unfortunately, typical diagnostic pathways and approaches may not apply in pregnancy, and are made more complicated by the frequency of concerning and suggestive signs and symptoms in this population, particularly dyspnea (a common symptom in pregnancy related to an increase in progesterone levels) and tachycardia (as resting heart rate is typically expected to increase by up to 25% in normal pregnancy).