A pulmonary embolism is one possible cause of shortness of breath and heaviness in the legs, according to Healthline. It is a blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs that often occurs when a blood clot travels from the legs to the lung.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, chest pain and a cough that may be accompanied by blood. Another major symptom of a pulmonary embolism is swelling of the leg that can be painful, indicates Mayo Clinic. The blood clots that cause a pulmonary embolism often originate in the deep veins of the legs. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis, commonly shortened to DVT.
It is fairly unusual to have just one pulmonary embolism; most people have multiple, notes Mayo Clinic. Medical conditions that increase the chances of developing a pulmonary embolism include heart disease, cancer and being overweight. Long periods of immobility due to prolonged bed rest, sitting in a confined space for extended periods of time and recent surgery, can make development of a pulmonary embolism more likely. This condition can be life threatening, so it is important to see a doctor immediately. If treated correctly, doctors can manage pulmonary embolisms effectively.