What medications should be considered in the initial management of pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Sep 18, 2020
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Immediate therapeutic anticoagulation is initiated for patients with suspected deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). Anticoagulation therapy with heparin reduces mortality rates from 30% to less than 10%. Anticoagulation is essential, but anticoagulation alone does not guarantee a successful outcome. DVT and PE may recur or extend despite full and effective heparin anticoagulation.

Chronic anticoagulation is critical to prevent relapse of DVT or PE following initial heparinization. Heparin works by activating antithrombin III to slow or prevent the progression of DVT and to reduce the size and frequency of PE. Heparin does not dissolve existing clot.

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