How is pulmonary embolism treated?
Doctors usually treat pulmonary embolism with medicines called anticoagulants. They are often called blood thinners, but they don't really thin the blood. They help prevent new clots and keep existing clots from growing.
Most people take a blood thinner for a few months. People at high risk for blood clots may take it for the rest of their lives.
If symptoms are severe and life-threatening, "clot-busting" drugs called thrombolytics may be used. These medicines can dissolve clots quickly, but they increase the risk of serious bleeding. Another option is surgery or a less invasive procedure to remove the clot (embolectomy).
Some people may have a filter put into the large vein (vena cava) that carries blood from the lower body to the heart. A vena cava filter helps keep blood clots from reaching the lungs. This filter might be used if you have problems taking an anticoagulant.