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Thrombolytic medicines, such as streptokinase or
tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), interfere with the action of
thrombin, which is needed to form blood clots. These medicines help to dissolve
blood clots and may be used to treat
pulmonary embolism in life-threatening situations.
All thrombolytics can cause serious bleeding. Bleeding
inside the brain is a particular danger that can cause a stroke or death. In
general, thrombolytics are used only where the risk of bleeding can be balanced
against the risks of not dissolving the blood clot rapidly. Thrombolytics might be used when you have a large blood clot that is:
These medicines are given through a vein in the hand or arm.
Sometimes it is necessary to insert a catheter and give the medicine
directly into the pulmonary artery. You must be hospitalized to receive
Other Works Consulted
Guyatt GH, et al. (2012). Executive summary: Antithrombotic therapy and prevention of thrombosis, 9th ed.—American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest, 141(2, Suppl): 7S–47S.
Weitz JI (2012). Pulmonary embolism. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 596–603. Philadelphia: Saunders.
January 10, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jeffrey S. Ginsberg, MD - Hematology
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