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Thrombolytic Medicines for Pulmonary Embolism - Topic Overview

Thrombolytic medicines, such as streptokinase or tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), interfere with the action of thrombin, which is needed to form blood clots. These medicines help to dissolve blood clots and may be used to treat pulmonary embolism in life-threatening situations.

All thrombolytics can cause serious bleeding. Bleeding inside the brain is a particular danger that can cause a stroke or death. In general, thrombolytics are used only where the risk of bleeding can be balanced against the risks of not dissolving the blood clot rapidly. Thrombolytics might be used when you have a large blood clot that is:

Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

How DVT Is Treated

Doctors have several ways to treat a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The most common treatment is a drug called a blood thinner. Blood thinners are also called anticoagulants. These drugs stop the clot from getting bigger. They also help prevent it from breaking off and moving to the lungs. And they prevent other clots from forming. Blood thinners don’t break down the clot itself. The body does that over time.

Read the How DVT Is Treated article > >

  • Severely blocking blood flow.
  • Decreasing the heart's ability to pump blood.
  • Causing very low blood pressure and shock.

These medicines are given through a vein in the hand or arm. Sometimes it is necessary to insert a catheter and give the medicine directly into the pulmonary artery. You must be hospitalized to receive thrombolytic medicines.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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