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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About DVT

1. What is DVT? And how dangerous is it?

DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in one of your body's deep veins, usually within a muscle of your leg.

Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

What will treating DVT, a blood clot deep in a vein, do for you? It will prevent the clot from growing. It'll keep the clot from breaking off and traveling to your lung or another organ. You'll avoid long-lasting complications, such as leg pain and swelling. Treatment prevents future blood clots, too. Often, medication and taking care of yourself will do the trick. But you may need surgery. Talk to your doctor about which medical treatment options are right for you.

Read the Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) article > >

The biggest danger is that part of the clot could break off and travel to your lungs. It could cause a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism, or PE. Your doctor will talk to you about how likely that is to happen with your clot.

2. Are you sure I have a DVT? How is it diagnosed?

People with a deep-vein clot in their leg usually have swelling, pain, tenderness, or redness in one leg, but sometimes both.

Your doctor will do a physical exam. He'll also send you for an ultrasound to see how blood is flowing through your veins. He may use other imaging tests and blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.

3. How did I get DVT? What causes it?

You can get a clot when you're sitting still for hours, like on a long plane ride or car trip. One can form after surgery and a long hospital stay. Women who take hormones such as estrogen in birth control pills or after menopause are more likely to get a clot.

You should talk to your doctor to figure out what led to yours.

4. How will you treat my DVT?

Your doctor will likely start by giving you shots of heparin. It's a kind of drug called a blood thinner that makes it harder for your blood to clot. Then, you may need to take blood thinner pills, such as apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), edoxaban (Savaysa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), or warfarin (Coumadin). If you take warfarin, you'll need to get your blood checked often, too.

Blood thinners won't break up the clot; your body must do that over time. But they will keep it from getting any bigger and prevent more from forming.

5. How long will I have to stay on blood thinners?

It depends on what caused your clot. Someone who's had DVT typically takes blood thinners for 6 months. If the clot had just one cause, like surgery, and you don't have any other risk factors for DVT, it might be less time. If it was because of an inherited condition or an ongoing (chronic) disease, it could be longer.

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