Pulmonary Embolism Treatment: 
How Is a PE Treated?

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 clot and help stop 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 he or she feels you would be better served by seeing a specialist, he or she 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 medicines

    Often, healthcare professionals begin treatment for a PE using intravenous or injectable blood thinners to help stop the clot from growing larger and help prevent other 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:
    • Heparin
    • Low-molecular-weight heparin (Lovenox®, dalteparin)
    • Fondaparinux
  • Oral prescription medicines

    Oral blood thinners are also prescribed to help stop the 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 clot through a catheter to quickly dissolve the clot.
    • The catheter—which is threaded through a vein from the groin to the lung—may also be used to remove the clot.
    • In rare cases, the clot may be removed surgically.

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PE Recovery: Life After PE

Understand what to expect from treatment and pulmonary embolism recovery.

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Blood Thinners for PE

Evaluate different types of blood thinners, including XARELTO®.

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Managing Risk for Recurrent PE

Understand what factors mean you have an ongoing risk for PE and how XARELTO® compares to aspirin.

I want people to know that there are options—good options for treatment.

Hear Tiffany’s perspective on treatment options.