A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a sudden blockage in one of the arteries in the lungs. This happens when a blood clot in another part of the body (often the legs) breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. PE is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition, and it is the third leading cause of cardiovascular death in the United States.
A PE needs medical treatment right away. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing up blood. It may be treated with blood thinners, but other treatment options for higher risk patients can include medicine to break up clots (thrombolytics), surgery, and procedures using small tubes called catheters.
To provide the highest level of care for patients with PE, UAB Medicine created a Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) in 2018. It is staffed by specialists in cardiology, interventional cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, emergency medicine, hematology, and pulmonary & critical care medicine. The PERT’s mission is to quickly respond to patients with high-risk blood clots, using input from multiple specialists in real time. Since its creation, the PERT has treated hundreds of patients and helped many avoid serious medical complications.
The PERT’s mission is supported by UAB Medicine’s nationally ranked Cardiovascular Institute, which offers the full range of care for heart and vascular conditions. This expertise is backed by the latest and most advanced technology, facilities, and treatment options, as well as our dedication to patient-centered care. As a major academic medical center, UAB is highly active in pulmonary embolism research and clinical trials. This commitment to innovation and discovery means that patients may have access to promising new treatments not available at other hospitals.
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