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Pulmonary Embolism - Medications

Medicines can help prevent repeated episodes of pulmonary embolism by preventing new blood clots from forming or preventing existing clots from getting larger.

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants are prescribed when pulmonary embolism is diagnosed or strongly suspected.

You'll likely take an anticoagulant for at least 3 months after pulmonary embolism to reduce the risk of having another blood clot.2 Treatment with anticoagulants may continue throughout your life if the risk of having another pulmonary embolism remains high.

Different types of anticoagulants are used to treat pulmonary embolism. In the hospital, you might be given an anticoagulant as a shot or through an IV. After you go home, you might give yourself shots for a few days. For the long term, you'll likely take a pill.

Anticoagulants include:

  • Heparin.
  • Warfarin.
  • Rivaroxaban.
  • Fondaparinux.

Safety tips for anticoagulants

If you take an anticoagulant, you can take steps to prevent bleeding. This includes preventing injuries and getting regular blood tests if needed.

actionset.gif Warfarin: Taking Your Medicine Safely
actionset.gif Blood Thinners Other Than Warfarin: Taking Them Safely

Thrombolytics

Clot-dissolving (thrombolytic) medicines are not commonly used to treat pulmonary embolism. Although they can quickly dissolve a blood clot, thrombolytics also greatly increase the risk of serious bleeding. They are sometimes used to treat a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

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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