font size

Pulmonary Embolism (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Thrombolytic therapy

Pulmonary embolism can be fatal, especially if involves a large amount of clot. When the patient is unconscious, has low or no blood pressure or are not breathing, clot busting or thrombolytic therapy using medications like TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) may be considered. It is also often considered when signs of right heart strain are present.

In certain centers, a special procedure can be performed where is catherter is placed in the right side of the heart and the clot is essentially vacuumed out.

What is the prognosis for pulmonary embolism?

Patient survival depends upon:

  • the underlying health of the patient,
  • size of the pulmonary embolus,
  • the cause of the pulmonary embolus, and
  • the ability for a diagnosis to be made and treatment initiated.

The diagnosis is often difficult, and it is estimated to that there are up to 400,000 cases of pulmonary embolus that are not diagnosed in the United States each year.

In those patients where the diagnosis is made, the mortality rate is less than 20% when considering all patients. Usually, however, the mortality risk is much less in most patients. The higher incidence of death occurs in patients that are older, have other underlying illnesses, or have a delay in diagnosis. Racial differences may also exist, but probably are due more to access to quality care than a specific genetic difference.

Can pulmonary embolism be prevented?

Minimizing the risk of deep vein thrombosis minimizes the risk of pulmonary embolism. The embolism cannot occur without the initial DVT.

  • In the hospital setting, the staff works hard to minimize the potential for clot formation in immobilized patients. Compression stockings are routinely used. Surgery patients are out of bed walking (ambulatory) earlier and low dose heparin or enoxaparin is being used for deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis (measures taken to prevent deep vein thrombosis).
  • For those who travel, it is recommended that they get up and walk every couple of hours during a long trip.
  • Compression stockings may be helpful in preventing future deep vein thrombus formation in patients with a previous history of a clot.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCES:

Carman, tl, Gegaj F Management of Pulmonary Embolism: 2010 State of the Art Update Curr Treat Options. Cardiovasc Med. 2010 Apr;12(2);168-184

Tintinalli J, etal. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th edition. McGraw-Hill Professional 2010.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung) - Treatments Question: What treatment has been effective for your pulmonary embolism?
Pulmonary Embolism - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with your pulmonary embolism?
Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung) - Diagnosis Question: Describe the exams and tests you received that led to a diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism.
Pulmonary Embolism - Venous Doppler Question: Did you have a venous doppler study, or ultrasound? Please share your experience.
Pulmonary Embolism - Thrombolytic Therapy Question: Did you or someone you know receive thrombolytic therapy for a pulmonary embolism? Please share your story.
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/pulmonary_embolism/article.htm

Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

Pulmonary Embolism Related Articles
advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations

NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD