STANDARD DVT TREATMENTS
Blood-thinning medications, also called anticoagulants, and compression stockings are usually the first line of treatment for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Be sure to talk to your doctor to help get clarity about all of your treatment options.
Blood thinners are the most common treatment for DVT. Although they’re called blood thinners, they don’t actually thin your blood. They work by decreasing your blood’s ability to clot, which helps prevent an existing clot from getting bigger while your body slowly reabsorbs it, and helps keep new clots from forming. You will probably need to take blood thinners for six months, but your doctor may increase or decrease the time based on your unique situation. These medications are a critical part of your treatment, and it’s important that you continue to follow your doctor’s instructions.
It’s important to know that blood thinners do not break up or dissolve existing clots, and they may not resolve your symptoms. Some patients may be candidates for interventional treatments that can help clear the clot, potentially relieving the symptoms of DVT and reducing the risk of long-term complications such as post-thrombotic syndrome.
TYPES OF BLOOD THINNERS
Your doctor may treat you with both injections (commonly heparin) and pills (commonly warfarin or Coumadin) for a few days. That’s because heparin starts acting quickly and warfarin can take two to three days to work. Once the warfarin kicks in, your doctor will stop the heparin injections. Your doctor may then prescribe one of several blood thinners, which you’ll need to take for several months. Since warfarin is dangerous during pregnancy, pregnant women are usually treated with heparin only.
To help relieve leg pain and swelling, your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings for up to two or more years after being diagnosed with DVT. Also known as graduated compression stockings, these specialized stockings are tighter at the ankle and gradually become looser as they go up your legs. They work by gently squeezing your legs to improve blood flow.
Compression stockings are made of a special elastic fabric and come in a variety of pressure levels, lengths, sizes, and colors. Your doctor will work with you to find the right stockings for your needs. Compression stockings can take some time to get used to, but it’s important to keep wearing them as your doctor directed.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
FROM UNDERSTANDING YOUR RISK OF COMPLICATIONS TO FINDING OUT ABOUT YOUR TREATMENT OPTIONS, OUR DOCTOR DISCUSSION GUIDE HAS IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR TO HELP CLEAR UP THE CONFUSION ABOUT DVT.