Acute and chronic pulmonary embolism: the role of the pulmonary embolism response team

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Acute pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that can lead to both acute and long-term morbidity and mortality. Patients with acute pulmonary embolism are at risk for significant complications including the development of chronic pulmonary embolism and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. This review will describe the rationale for and structure of pulmonary embolism response teams, with a focus on the recognition and treatment of patients with persistent morbidity following pulmonary embolism.

Recent findings

For patients with intermediate and high-risk pulmonary embolism, a myriad of treatment options exist, ranging from anticoagulation alone to surgical embolectomy and hemodynamic support with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Optimizing treatment for these patients requires rapid assessment and multidisciplinary cooperation. Over the last five years, the pulmonary embolism response team has emerged as a mechanism to facilitate this care.

Summary

Pulmonary embolism response teams can streamline and expedite care for patients with intermediate and high-risk pulmonary embolism. However, the care for patients with acute pulmonary embolism does not end at hospital discharge. It is essential to ensure adequate follow-up and identify patients with persistent symptoms and impaired quality of life, particularly those who may have symptomatic chronic pulmonary embolism or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension.

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