After your healthcare professional or emergency room (ER) doctor confirms the presence of a pulmonary embolism (PE), you may be prescribed different types of medication to break up the blood clot and help stop blood clots from continuing to form. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be recommended to treat the PE.
Pulmonary embolism treatments
Who do I see to start pulmonary embolism treatment?
Often, your primary care physician will be able to treat and manage your PE. If this is not the case, or if they feel you would be better served by seeing a specialist, they might refer you to what’s called a “thrombosis clinic.” This is a facility staffed by healthcare professionals with special training in bleeding and clotting disorders.
If you want to find a doctor who specializes in treating and managing PE, the American Society of Hematology offers a tool to look up healthcare professionals near you.
Injectable prescription medicinesOften, healthcare professionals begin treatment for a PE using intravenous or injectable blood thinners to help stop the blood clot from growing larger and help prevent other blood clots from forming. You may receive an injectable blood thinner for a few days before starting an oral blood thinner like warfarin (Coumadin®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), or edoxaban (Savaysa®). Once the oral blood thinner becomes effective, the injectable medicine is stopped.Examples of injectable PE medicines:
- Low-molecular-weight heparin (Lovenox®, dalteparin)
Oral prescription medicinesOral blood thinners are also prescribed to help stop the blood clot in your lung from growing larger and help prevent other DVT blood clots from forming in your legs. You do not need to use an injectable blood thinner before starting XARELTO® or apixaban (Eliquis®), but warfarin (Coumadin®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), and edoxaban (Savaysa®) may only be taken after you have been treated with an injectable blood thinner.Examples of oral PE blood thinners:
- XARELTO® (rivaroxaban)
- Eliquis® (apixaban)
- Savaysa® (edoxaban)
- Pradaxa® (dabigatran)
- Warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®)
Surgical and nonsurgical procedures
- In the case of a severe blood clot, or if other medicines are not working, your healthcare professional may try a clot buster, or thrombolytic therapy, which is given by IV or injected directly into the blood clot through a catheter to quickly dissolve it.
- The catheter—which is threaded through a vein from the groin to the lung—may also be used to remove the blood clot.
- In rare cases, the blood clot may be removed surgically.
While in the emergency room, the doctor came up to me and said ‘You have a blood clot in your right leg.’
See how Joe and his doctor found the treatment that worked for him.