A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot that becomes lodged in the veins in the lungs. This blocks blood flow to the affected area and prevents that area from picking up oxygen. PE can be life-threatening, particularly if it is not diagnosed and treated rapidly.
The signs and symptoms of PE can vary from one person to another. Common signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- Shortness of breath or needing to breathe rapidly
- Sharp, knife-like chest pain while taking a deep breath
- Coughing or coughing up blood
- A rapid heart rate
- Dizziness or fainting
PE is usually diagnosed with a CT scan and is treated with potent blood thinners to dissolve the clot.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
A deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a blood clot in a vein. DVT most often occurs in the legs, but can occur elsewhere in the body as well. The main complications are leg swelling and the potential for a piece of the clot to break off and travel into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism or PE.
Typical DVT symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness of the calf
- Swelling of the calf
- Color and temperature changes of the calf; the calf may become warm and red
DVT is usually diagnosed with an ultrasound and is treated with potent blood thinners to dissolve the clot.
Outpatient DVT/PE Treatment
Treating patients with blood clots in the veins in the legs (deep vein thrombosis [DVT]) or lungs (pulmonary embolism [PE]) requires use of powerful blood thinning medications called anticoagulants.
In the past, these patient were hospitalized for intravenous blood thinners and oral medication coupled with continuous adjustments and monitoring.
New fast-acting oral anticoagulant medications, known as direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) allow for treatment of these conditions outside of the hospital in select cases.
We worked across multiple disciplines to develop treatment guidelines for managing patients with DVT and PE in an outpatient setting. The results have been so successful, Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health has presented at national meetings as an example of best practices.
IVC Filter Retrieval
Patients with blood clots in the legs or in the lungs (DVT or PE) are usually treated with powerful blood thinners called anticoagulants. However, sometimes patients cannot use these medications due to a high risk of bleeding.
In those cases we will often put a screen or filter into the large vein in the abdomen called the inferior vena cava (IVC).
These IVC filters are effective in reducing the risk of blood clots in the lungs, but if left in place permanently, can create long-term complications. Most IVC filters are retrieved within 6-12 months during a simple radiology procedure.
We identify and track all IVC filters placed at Renown and work with each patient’s care team to determine if the IVC filter should be removed and when.
This has led to a substantial improvement in IVC filter removal rates, an accomplishment that is nationally recognized as a model of exceptional care.
At the Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health’s Pharmocotherapy Program, pharmacists and nurse practitioners monitor your lab results so they can tailor your medication dosage while offering counseling and education about your medical condition.Explore the Pharmocotherapy Program