Pulmonary embolisms usually begin in the veins deep in the muscles with a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Typically occurring in the legs, the risk of DVT is increased in patients who have inherited blood clotting abnormalities, undergone major surgery, sit or stand for long periods of time, smoke regularly, or have a history of cancer, heart attack, or stroke. When a pulmonary embolism occurs, a blood clot – usually caused by DVT – travels through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs. Because of how fatal large embolisms can be, it is essential to discuss treatment options with your doctor and – more importantly – adhere to the treatment method(s) that they prescribe.
Heparin is an anticoagulant drug that is used intravenously as an initial treatment for pulmonary embolisms. Preventing your blood from clotting too easily, it can help your body break up the clot that caused your embolism.
A more aggressive treatment, thrombolysis is used to treat large pulmonary embolisms. Thrombolysis aims to dissolve the clot by injecting clot-dissolving drugs directly into it. With higher risk associated with this procedure, it is often used in situations where the embolism has grown too large to respond quickly to other treatments.
Vena Caval Filter
If drug therapy isn’t an option, your doctor may recommend a vena caval filter. Designed to trap clots that break away before they reach your lungs, the filter is installed in the vena cava vein, which carries blood from your abdomen to your heart and lungs.
At Advanced Vascular Surgery, we specialize in pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and PAD treatment. If you’re looking for a trusted, knowledgeable expert that will work with you to discover the best treatment options for your unique situation, schedule a visit with us today.