Deep Vein Thrombosis: Getting the Right Care

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If you develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT), there are a number of treatments that your doctor may prescribe. DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in the deep veins usually of your legs or pelvis, causing pain, swelling, and irritation. These clots can become dangerous and potentially deadly when they break loose and travel to other parts of the body. For example, the clot may move to the arteries of your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism that blocks the flow of oxygen to your blood. People of any age can develop these conditions, known together as venous thromboembolism.

If you develop DVT, here are some of the most common medical treatments you may encounter:

Blood thinners

If you experience a clot in your deep veins, your doctor may prescribe blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants. These may be administered by your physician through injection or IV or may be taken orally.

The blood thinners don’t break up the clot, but help prevent further clots from forming. This allows the body’s natural enzymes to slowly break up the existing clot over a period of days or weeks.

These medications hinder the body’s ability to form new clots, so patients who are at risk of bleeding, such as patients with ulcers or who have recently had surgery may not be good candidates for taking these medications.

Thrombolytics

This group of drugs is used to dissolve large blood clots through a process called thrombolysis. Typically these drugs are used to dissolve clots that are causing severe symptoms, such as pulmonary embolism. The drugs dissolve the clots to curb long-term effects and permanent damage to the affected area.

Catheter-directed thrombolysis

Like other forms of thrombolytics, catheter-directed thrombolysis is used to treat dangerous blood clots. During this procedure, your physician will use a catheter to administer medication directly to the blood clot. Or the catheter will place a medical device that will remove the clot.

Forms of prevention

Often, the best treatment for any medical condition is prevention. If you’re at risk for DVT, making sure to stay active, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated can help prevent clots from forming in the first place. You can also wear compression socks, which increase blood flow and aid circulation by forcing blood from the superficial veins in your legs to the deep veins.

If you find yourself in situations where your movement is inhibited for long periods of time, like on a long flight or during a hospital stay, make sure to move around as much as possible. Leg exercises like wiggling your feet heel-to-toe or taking short walks to the bathroom can also help keep your circulation healthy and prevent clots from forming.