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Taking Blood Thinners for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Blood thinners (also called anticoagulants) are commonly used to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the upper part of the leg. Though they're called blood thinners, these DVT treatments do not actually thin your blood. Instead, they keep existing blood clots from getting larger or prevent new ones from forming. They do this by preventing the production of certain proteins needed for blood to clot. Common blood thinners include:

A special kind of heparin, called low-molecular-weight heparin (Fragmin, Innohep, and Lovenox), also treats DVT.

Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside a muscle in your body. It usually happens in the legs, but can also develop in your arms, chest, or other areas of your body. And though DVT is common, it can be dangerous. The blood clot can block your circulation or lodge in a blood vessel in your lungs, brain, heart, or other area. The clot can cause severe organ damage and even death -- within hours. The main cause of DVT is poor blood flow. When circulation...

Read the Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) article > >





Blood Thinner Basics

Heparin, fondaparinux, and warfarin are mainstays of DVT treatment and have a long history. DVT is often treated first with heparin or fondaparinux and then followed up with warfarin for at least 3 months.     

As with all blood thinners, there is a risk of bleeding with heparin and warfarin if too much is given. But, the drug doesn't work if too little is given. Patients require close monitoring so their dose can be adjusted. In cases of a heparin overdose, protamine sulfate is given to neutralize its effects. If a person gets too much warfarin, they will likely get vitamin K to cause the blood to clot. Depending on the patient's situation and risk factors, DVT may be treated at home. 

Eliquis, Pradaxa, and Xarelto are newer blood thinners. They don't require the lab tests and dose adjustments needed for heparin and warfarin. But in cases of an overdose with these medications, there is no readily available antidote. Which drug a doctor prescribes will vary depending on things such as a person's age and the health of their kidneys. 

After treatment with anticoagulants, your doctor may recommend taking low-dose aspirin. While aspirin isn't as effective at preventing blood clots, it carries less risk for uncontrolled bleeding.        




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