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Pulmonary embolism is associated with variable risk of early mortality, ranging from less than 1% to more than 15%. Risk stratification, based on clinical variables and signs of right ventricular dysfunction, is crucial to decide the best management and treatment strategy. Home therapy may be an option for low-risk patients, whereas patients at intermediate risk need to be hospitalized and some of them, at intermediate high risk, may require more intensive monitoring to early detect signs of haemodynamic decompensation. The initial treatment is based on anticoagulants with rapid onset of action, either parenteral (heparin/fondaparinux) or oral (direct oral anticoagulants, DOACs). Thereafter, DOACs (or, if contraindicated, vitamin K antagonists) needs to be continued for at least 3 months. Beyond this period, an individual re-evaluation of the risk-to-benefit ratio of anticoagulation should be performed, based on several factors, including the type of index event, age, sex, D-dimer and residual venous obstruction. Possibly safer strategies can be offered to higher risk patients requiring extended duration of treatment, including the DOACs apixaban and rivaroxaban at reduced dose.
PMID: 29843172 [PubMed - in process]