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10 Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor About DVT

6. What if I can’t take blood thinners, or the clot is really big?

If you can’t take blood thinners, your doctor may recommend surgical placement of a vena cava filter -- a tiny umbrella-like device -- inside the vein above the clot. It can catch a dislodged clot within the vein and keep it from traveling to your lungs.

Drugs called thrombolytics may be used to quickly break down a big clot that threatens to cut off blood flow. People taking these drugs must be closely watched because the medication can cause uncontrolled bleeding.

7. Can I exercise while being treated, or will that cause the clot to move toward my lungs?

Your doctor will talk to you about what exercise you like to do and whether it's safe. Sam Schulman, director of the Clinical Thromboembolism Program at Hamilton General Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, recommends very little exercise the first week.

“The person can move around and walk from the first day of diagnosis,” Schulman says. “Then after about a week, they can gradually increase their level of exercise.”

8. Can a DVT cause a stroke or heart attack?

A clot from a deep vein can't move to the heart to cause a heart attack or to the brain to cause a stroke, Passman says. However, a blood clot in an artery -- called arterial thrombosis -- can.

9. Are there any lasting effects after DVT?

Some people will have periodic pain, swelling, and color changes to the affected leg, says Natalie Evans, a vascular medicine specialist in the Cleveland Clinic's Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute. This is known as the post-thrombotic syndrome.

10. What are my chances of having another DVT, and how can I prevent that from happening?

One-third of people with DVT or PE will have a second bout within 10 years. Preventing that depends on what caused your DVT in the first place. Some factors -- like age and inherited blood disorders -- can’t be helped. But your doctor will walk you through changes you can make, such as avoiding injury to veins, losing weight, and being more active. You'll also need to get up and stretch your legs on long plane rides, and stop to get out and walk around on car trips. If you're admitted to the hospital for any reason, explain that you’ve had DVT. The staff will likely put you on blood thinners or use compression stockings on your legs to improve blood flow and prevent another DVT.

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Reviewed on April 17, 2015

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