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Pros, Cons to Dissolving Lung Clots: Study

Clot-busting drugs appear to save lives but increase risk of serious bleeding


The investigators found that clot-dissolving drugs reduced the relative risk of dying early by 47 percent. Among those given these drugs, 2.2 percent died, compared with 3.9 percent of those not receiving clot-busting therapy.

But the risk of major bleeding was nearly tripled with clot-busting drugs compared with drugs used to prevent clotting -- 9.2 percent versus 3.4 percent, the researchers found. Major bleeding was not significantly increased in patients 65 and younger, the authors noted.

Those receiving the clot-busting therapy were also more likely to suffer brain bleeding than those given anti-clotting drugs (1.5 percent versus 0.2 percent). But they were less likely to have another clot in the lung (1.2 percent versus 3 percent), the study found.

Each year pulmonary embolism contributes to almost 30,000 U.S. deaths. Risk of death is heightened for up to three months after the clot occurs, the researchers said.


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