Treatment for a blood clot in the lung includes anticoagulants, or blood thinners, and clot dissolvers, or thrombolytics, according to Mayo Clinic. Surgery and vein filters also are used to treat blood clots in the lung.
Anticoagulants are used to prevent new blood clots from forming and to stop existing clots from getting bigger, claims the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. They don't destroy clots that are already there. Existing clots are eventually dissolved by the body or can be removed by thrombolytics in an emergency. Anticoagulants can be taken as pills, by injection or through intravenous injection.
Thrombolytics are given when the blood clot is life-threatening, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. These medicines dissolve the blood clot quickly, but they put the patient at higher risk for catastrophic bleeds. A doctor might also thread a catheter through the patient's arm or thigh to reach the blood clot to remove it. The catheter can deliver drugs to the clot to dissolve it.
A vein filter is also inserted into a patient's inferior vena cava to treat blood clots before they reach the lungs, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. This filter is inserted through a neck vein and is given to patients who can't tolerate anticoagulant drugs or for whom anticoagulant drugs don't work, claims Mayo Clinic.