Safe-dose thrombolysis plus rivaroxaban for moderate and severe pulmonary embolism: drip, drug, and discharge

Clin Cardiol. 2014 Feb;37(2):78-82. doi: 10.1002/clc.22216. Epub 2013 Oct 7.


Background: Thrombolysis, though very effective, has not been embraced as routine therapy for symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE) except in very severe cases. Rivaroxaban recently has been approved for the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE). There are no data on the combined use of thrombolysis and rivaroxaban in PE.

Hypothesis: "Safe dose" thrombolysis (SDT) plus new oral anticoagulants are expected to become an appealing, safe and effective approach in the treatment of moderate and severe PE in the near future, thereby drastically reducing hospitalization time.

Methods: Over a 12-month period, 98 consecutive patients with symptomatic PE were treated by a combination of SDT and rivaroxaban. The SDT was started in parallel with unfractionated heparin and given in 2 hours. Heparin was given for a total of 24 hours and rivaroxaban started at 15 or 20 mg daily 2 hours after termination of heparin infusion.

Results: There was no bleeding due to SDT. Recurrent VTE occurred in 3 patients who had been switched to warfarin. No patient on rivaroxaban developed VTE. Two patients died of cancer at a mean follow-up of 12 ± 2 months. The pulmonary artery systolic pressure dropped from 52.8 ± 3.9 mm Hg before to 32 ± 4.4 mm Hg within 36 hours of SDT (P < 0.001). The duration of hospitalization for patients presenting primarily for PE was 1.9 ± 0.2 days.

Conclusions: "Safe dose" thrombolysis plus rivaroxaban is highly safe and effective in the treatment of moderate and severe PE, leading to favorable early and intermediate-term outcomes and early discharge.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morpholines / administration & dosage*
  • Morpholines / adverse effects
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / blood
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / drug therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thiophenes / administration & dosage*
  • Thiophenes / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Morpholines
  • Thiophenes
  • Heparin
  • Rivaroxaban