What You Can Do About DVT

After you find out you have deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot in your vein, you'll want to avoid dangerous complications and stop more clots from forming.

Take Blood Thinners

The most common treatment for DVT is medication called blood thinners, or anticoagulants. These won't get rid of your clot, but they'll stop it from getting bigger. They can also prevent more clots from forming while your body breaks down the one you have.

Your doctor will usually give you a shot first because it works faster. Then you'll probably take blood thinner pills for at least 3 months. (Pregnant women will keep taking shots at home.) Some people need blood thinners for the rest of their lives.

Many doctors prescribe warfarin (Coumadin) because it's much less expensive, and doctors have used it for a long time. But you'll need to get your blood tested often to make sure the dose is correct. The drug also doesn't work right with many foods and other medicines.

Newer blood thinners don't need frequent blood tests and don't interact with foods. They include apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), edoxaban (Savaysa), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto).

One of the biggest concerns when you take these medications is the risk of bleeding. Even a minor cut could bleed a lot. Patients taking the drug Pradaxa can be giving idarucizumab (Praxbind) used in emergencies to reverse the blood-thinning. Call your doctor if you fall, get hit, or bump your head. You may be bleeding inside where you can't see it.

Wear Compression Stockings

The most common style of these special socks go from the arch of your foot to just below or above your knee. They can relieve the pain and swelling in your legs, and they help prevent more clots.

Compression stockings come in different levels of pressure. You can get mild ones over the counter, but you'll need to get fitted and a prescription for stronger ones. Your doctor will help you figure out what kind you need.

You may have to wear them for 2 years or longer after you have DVT.

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Get a Vena Cava Filter

When blood thinners don't work or you can't take them, your doctor can do surgery to put a filter into the large vein in your belly. It looks like a tiny mesh umbrella. It lets blood flow through, but it stops clots and clot pieces before they can get to your lungs and cause serious problems.

Avoid Getting More Clots

Most things you do to treat DVT will also help prevent it, including taking medication and wearing compression stockings.

If you're carrying extra pounds, work on losing weight. If you're a smoker, quit.

When you have to sit for a long time, such as on a plane or car trip, get up and walk around every hour or two to keep your blood moving. At least flex your calf muscles and feet to boost your circulation.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on January 04, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Charles Cutler, MD, chairman, American College of Physicians’ board of regents; internist, Norristown, PA.

CDC: "Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) / Pulmonary Embolism (PE) - Blood Clot Forming in a Vein," "Treatments of DVT and PE," "Facts."

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: "How is Deep Vein Thrombosis Treated?"

FDA: "Generic Enoxaparin Questions and Answers."

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