Anticoagulant medicines, also called blood thinners, are used to prevent and treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
These medicines prevent new clots from forming and prevent existing clots from getting larger. They don't break up or dissolve existing blood clots.
For prevention, anticoagulants might be used:
For treatment, you might take anticoagulants for at least 3 months. The length of time will be based on your own health, the location of the blood clot in your leg, and your risk for a pulmonary embolism.2
In the hospital, you might be given an anticoagulant as a shot or through an IV. After you go home, you might give yourself shots for a few days. For long-term treatment, you'll likely take a pill.
ThrombolyticsThrombolytics are used to quickly dissolve a clot in certain people. They are only used in the hospital.
How long will you need medicine?
If you're taking anticoagulants after surgery to prevent DVT, you only need the medicine for a short time. This might be 2 weeks or more, depending on the medicine and the type of surgery you had.
For treatment of deep vein thrombosis, you will likely take an anticoagulant for at least three months. You might take it longer, depending on your health.
You might take anticoagulants for a long time, maybe the rest of your life, if you:
Safety tips for anticoagulants
If you take an anticoagulant, you can take steps to prevent bleeding. This includes preventing injuries and getting regular blood tests if needed.
Warfarin: Taking Your Medicine Safely
Blood Thinners Other Than Warfarin: Taking Them Safely