Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the subject of hundreds of medical studies worldwide. You might seek out clinical trials because your current DVT treatment isn’t working well. If you have a family history of DVT, taking part in a trial could help you find ways to prevent the condition. Clinical trials can also give you access to new treatments before they’re widely available.
In clinical trials, researchers use human volunteers to test new approaches to a condition. They also look at causes of illnesses and ways to prevent them. Some look at strategies to help people manage their condition better and improve their quality of life.
They may be done by:
- Government research agencies
- Drug companies
- Developers of medical products such as devices or tests
Areas of DVT Research
Doctors are studying many aspects of the treatment and prevention of DVT.
For instance, some studies focus on DVT in people who also have other conditions, such as COVID-19, cancer, or pregnancy.
What makes a person more likely to have DVT or serious complications from DVT? Researchers are looking in several areas, including:
- Genetic factors
- Whether differences in platelets, cells in the blood that clump to stop bleeding, can help predict DVT
- Whether blood tests can help predict whose clots will get worse
What approaches can help people with DVT recover? Clinical trials are reviewing:
- Machines that squeeze your limbs to improve circulation
- Special warming boots
Doctors also are comparing drugs used to treat DVT. They want to learn whether some are more effective than others, and whether certain medications can help prevent DVT. They’re testing new drugs, too.
How Do I Find a Clinical Trial?
Let your doctor know if you’re interested in taking part in a trial. They can help you find studies that might be right for you. You also can search for studies on your own and bring them to the attention of your doctor.
One of the easiest ways to find clinical studies is to use the searchable website www.clinicaltrials.gov. Search terms you might use to find DVT clinical trials include:
- Venous thromboembolism
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- New oral anticoagulation therapies
- Post-thrombotic syndrome
You also can search for DVT along with other conditions or situations, such as cancer, orthopedic surgery, or pregnancy. For example, you could type “Deep vein thrombosis and pregnancy.”
Who Can Join?
All studies have guidelines about who can take part. They’re outlined in a description of the study called the protocol. The protocol explains:
- The reason for the study
- Who can take part
- How many volunteers are needed
- The schedule of tests or procedures
- Drugs involved (if any) and dosage
- How long the study will last
- What information it will collect
Every study also has a list of eligibility rules. These cover things like age, gender, the progression of your illness, what treatments you’ve had, and other conditions you might have. You’ll have to meet the guidelines to be a candidate.
What Are the Phases of a Clinical Trial?
If a trial involves an experimental drug, it’s broken into four phases.
In phase I, a small group is given the drug and then monitored to see whether it’s effective, what dose works best, and any side effects.
In phase II, a larger group tries the treatment to confirm the early findings.
In phase III, an even larger group receives the drug. The doctors continue to check how well it works and side effects. They also compare it to other treatments for the same condition.
In phase IV, which takes place after the drug has been approved by the U.S. government, the researchers watch to see how well it works in a larger, more diverse population in real-life conditions. They also monitor for any problems that come with long-term use.
What About Safety?
Before you join a study, you’ll get information about its potential risks and benefits. The researchers also might offer question-and-answer sessions and activities to make sure you understand all the information. In order to take part, you’ll sign what’s called an “informed consent” document, which says that you’ve been given the information you need to decide.
You can withdraw from a study at any time, even if it’s not complete.
Review boards watch over clinical trials to ensure patient safety. These boards are made up of doctors, researchers, and non-scientific members of the community.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
There are benefits to clinical trials, but risks as well. Reasons to join include:
- You’ll contribute to valuable research.
- You may get to try treatments sooner.
- You’ll get regular medical care from professionals focused on your condition.
The risks of a clinical trial include:
- You might have side effects that range from unpleasant to life-threatening.
- You’ll commit time and energy to the study, and you may need to travel, spend time in the hospital, or have extensive tests.
What Does It Cost?
You might have to pay for other things – items sometimes called the “hidden costs” of clinical studies. Travel, parking fees, and overnight lodging are a few examples.
What Should I Ask?
You need to understand the purpose of the study, the potential benefits and risks, and costs you might have to pay. Here are other important questions to ask:
- How will researchers decide what treatment I receive?
- Will I know what treatment I am receiving?
- What will I have to do?
- What tests will I have? Are they painful?
- Who will oversee my care?
- Will I get follow-up care when the study ends?
- If the treatment helps me, can I keep getting it after the study is over?
- Will I get to see the study results?
- What are my options if I’m injured or become ill as a result of the study?