Pulmonary Embolism (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Treatment of pulmonary embolism focuses on preventing future pulmonary embolism by using anticoagulant medicines. Anticoagulants prevent existing blood clots from growing larger and help prevent new ones from developing.
If symptoms are severe and life-threatening, immediate and sometimes aggressive treatment is needed. Aggressive treatment may include thrombolytic medicines, which can dissolve a blood clot quickly but also increase the risk of severe bleeding. Another option for life-threatening, large pulmonary embolism is surgical removal of the clot, called an embolectomy. This surgery is only available at a few large hospitals.
Some people may also benefit from having a vena cava filter inserted into the large central vein of the body. This filter can help prevent blood clots from reaching the lungs. It is used when anticoagulants are not an option, when clots form despite anticoagulant use, or when there is an increased risk of death or a severely restricted lifestyle if another pulmonary embolism occurs.
The risk of forming another blood clot is highest in the weeks after the first episode of pulmonary embolism. This risk decreases over time. But the risk remains high for months and sometimes years, depending upon what caused the pulmonary embolism. People with recurrent blood clots and/or pulmonary embolism may have to take anticoagulants daily for the rest of their lives. Anticoagulant medicines also are often used for people who are not active due to illness or injury, or people who are having surgery on the legs, hips, belly, or brain.
Other preventive methods may also be used, such as:
Learn about preventing blood clots from travel. You are at higher risk for blood clots when you are traveling because of long periods of inactivity.
If you are already at high risk for pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis, talk to your doctor before taking a long flight or car trip. Ask if you need to take any special precautions to prevent blood clots during travel.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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