When a person has been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, they typically receive a so-called clot-busting drug (tPA), also known as a thrombolytic.

However, a study shows that traditional blood thinners can do the job of dissolving the clot just as well.

Here is what David Jiménez, MD, lead study author, says in the report: “The results of our study do not support the use of thrombolytic agents in most patients with acute symptomatic pulmonary embolism.”

The report also states that in patients with normal blood pressure, clot-busting drugs worsened survival rates, but in patients with low blood pressure, these drugs increased survival.

The increased survival rate, however, was not statistically significant. On the other hand, the drop in survival rate was statistically significant. The reason for these findings has not been determined.

Nevertheless, Dr. Jiménez believes that thrombolytic drugs (clot-busting) should not be given to pulmonary embolism patients who have normal blood pressure as opposed to low blood pressure.

More research is needed, he adds, focusing on patients with normal blood pressure who have a pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism usually results when a deep vein thrombosis breaks off from where it has lodged in a vein, and travels to the lungs and settles there (embolizes).

PE’s come in different sizes and the chief symptoms are sudden difficulty breathing, chest pain and cough, says Mayoclinic.com.

Risk factors for developing a pulmonary embolus (no particular order):

  • prolonged bed rest (regardless of the cause)
  • prolonged sitting while air traveling
  • excessive cramped sitting while in a motor vehicle
  • being obese
  • pregnancy
  • use of birth control pills
  • hormone replacement therapy
  • joint replacement surgery or other major surgery
  • smoking
  • cancer
  • elderly age with dehydration or certain medical problems like heart disease and heart valve malfunction
  • family history of pulmonary embolism.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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Top image: Freepik.com ijeab
Sources:
sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516111650.htm
mayoclinic.com/health/pulmonary-embolism/DS00429