How safe and effective are new pulmonary embolism devices?

Pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot lodged in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs, is the third leading cause of cardiovascular-related death in the United States. While most patients are treated with anticoagulants (commonly known as blood thinners), the use of novel interventional devices that remove or dissolve clots in the lungs has significantly increased in recent years. Yet, there is little data—particularly, as it pertains to the treatment of patients with “intermediate-risk PE”—that suggests these approaches are more safe and effective than the use of anticoagulation alone, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) that was led by Penn Medicine

x-ray of human heart and lungs

The statement will be published in Circulation and simultaneously presented by Jay S. Giri, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, at the 5th Annual Pulmonary Embolism Symposium in Boston.

“While the emergence of these interventional devices offers a new approach to treat pulmonary embolism, questions exist about when they should be administered and which patients would benefit the most. This statement aims to help stratify the risks associated with these approaches and guide clinical practice,” says Giri, who chaired the multidisciplinary committee. The team concluded that patients who are at the highest risk of dying of PE and lowest risk for bleeding benefit the most from more invasive therapies. “As we move forward,” Giri says, “it’s critical to design randomized trials that enable us to measure clinically meaningful differences in patient outcomes and quality of life.” 

Read more at Penn Medicine News.