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Alteplase Treatment of Acute Pulmonary Embolism in the Intensive Care Unit

Author(s): Pamela L. Smithburger, PharmD, BCPS, Shauna Campbell, BSN, Sandra L. Kane-Gill, MS, PharmD, MSc

Contact Hours: 1.00

CERP A: 1.00

Pharmacology Hours: 1.00

Expires Apr 01, 2017

Topics: Pulmonary, Pharmacology

Population: Adult

Role: APRN, Staff

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Activity Summary

Acute pulmonary embolism accounts for 50 000 to 100000 deaths each year in the United States. Because of the wide spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from massive pulmonary embolism to small peripheral emboli, stratifying and treating patients according to their signs and symptoms is important when an acute embolism is suspected. Patients’ clinical findings can range from no signs or symptoms to unstable hemodynamic status and shock. The 3-month mortality is 10% to 15%, but can be as high as 60% in patients with hemodynamic shock. This article reviews the classifications of acute peripheral emboli, explains the treatment of acute peripheral emboli, reviews the pharmacology of alteplase, and presents an assessment of the literature evaluating alteplase for the treatment of acute peripheral emboli. Clinical pearls for the administration, monitoring, and care of a patient receiving alteplase in an intensive care unit also are discussed.


  • Identify signs and symptoms when acute embolism is suspected
  • Discuss the medical management of acute peripheral emboli
  • Differentiate the classifications of acute peripheral emboli

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


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