Treatment for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) varies by your medical history and what caused your blood clot. Medication and compression stockings are often prescribed first, with surgery being reserved for more severe or recurring cases. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with DVT, you may have a variety of treatment options available, depending upon the severity of your condition.
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Medical treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, are the most common treatment for blood clots. The medications warfarin and heparin are usually prescribed in combination. Heparin works quickly, while warfarin is taken for a longer period.
The length of time prescribed for a medication varies by your situation. If your clot was related to surgery, your treatment time would be shorter than if you have had recurring clots.
Cancer treatment can also raise the risk of developing blood clots, so blood thinners may be prescribed throughout treatment as a preventive measure.
Blood thinners are given as an injection or a pill. The symptoms of the clot will likely improve within a few days.
Compression stockings are also used to aid blood flow and keep clots from forming. They are tight around the ankle and get looser as they go up the leg. Types of compression stockings vary from support pantyhose to over-the-counter-stockings to prescription-strength compression hose fitted by a professional.
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Endovascular treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis
For more severe clots or chronic DVT, your doctor may recommend endovascular treatment, or treatments that are performed inside your blood vessels. These may include:
- Thrombolysis, which delivers a medication through a catheter to break up the clot
- Vena cava filters, which are small metal devices used to stop a clot from traveling to the heart or lungs where it can cause an embolism
Because blood thinners and thrombolytics, the medication administered during thrombolysis, lower your blood’s clotting ability, more bleeding is possible. When taking blood thinners, your doctor may recommend that you undergo regular blood tests to ensure the medication is working properly. If you experience any unusual bleeding while taking medication, contact your doctor right away.
Some people may also experience chronic swelling near the vein, depending on the damage done to the vein’s inner lining from the clot.
What to Expect After DVT Treatment
Most people are able to return to normal activity after getting treated for a blood clot. Doing at least light physical activity such as walking will help prevent future blood clots.
After having a blood clot, you may be at higher risk for developing one again, particularly if you smoke, are overweight, or are taking hormones. Your doctor may recommend that you make lifestyle or medication changes to lower your risk of developing another clot.
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.