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It's the sudden closure of the pulmonary artery or one of its branches, caused by air bubbles, tumor fragments, or often blood clots.
The closure of a small artery may go unnoticed, but if a large artery is struck, the person experiences sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, increased sweating, palpitations, cyanosis, and eventually death. Pulmonary embolism accounts for about 4% of deaths in large hospitals.