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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.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. Approval of a continuing education activity does not imply endorsement by AACN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with the activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited with distinction as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012 (60 min contact hour). AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing, California Provider number CEP01036 contact hours (50 min contact hour).

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.