If you have been diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, or PE, you may wish to discuss the following five questions with your physician:
1. What line of treatment will I be given for pulmonary embolism?
Your line of treatment depends upon your doctor’s decision, which will be based on test results, physical examinations, and your medical history. However, any or a combination of the following treatments may be prescribed:
• Oxygen supplementation – This can be given through a ventilator or through a nasal cannula
• Anticoagulant administration- Heparin is a fast-acting anticoagulant that helps the clot to dissolve. Other chemicals found effective are fondaparinux acenocoumarol or phenprocoumon, and enoxaparin.
• Dopamine may be given to restore the fallen blood pressure.
• Inferior vena cava filter – The main vein can have a filter fitted so that in the future clots are filtered out and do not enter the lungs. Persons sensitive or unable to take anticoagulants are given this option.
• Thrombolysis – A large clot may require tissue plasminogen activator and dissolving of the pulmonary embolus and the original clot. It is a surgical procedure but a very effective one. However, this procedure is not recommended for trauma patients or those who have had severe bleeding in an injury that caused the PE.
2. Will I need to undergo surgery?
Surgical procedures may be required if a clot removal and vein filter are recommended by the doctor.
3. What are the risk factors for pulmonary embolism?
Risk factors for PE are:
• Long periods of immobility
• Certain heart conditions
• Deep vein clots in the legs
• Extensive travel
• Damaged vein walls
• Usage of birth control pills
4. What is the prognosis for pulmonary embolism?
The outlook for PE patients depends largely upon the extent of lung damage. Mortaility rate stands at 26 percent (Source: Barritt DW, Jordan SC (1960). "Anticoagulant drugs in the treatment of pulmonary embolism: a controlled trial.". Lancet 1 (7138): 1309–12. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(60)92299-6.PMID 13797091.).