If you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you'll probably work with more than one kind of medical expert to treat it. Your doctor may suggest that you meet with several different health care professionals and specialists throughout the course of your journey. You might hear them call this course of action an "integrated approach."
Each member of your team will play an important role in your treatment.
Primary Care Provider (PCP)
The doctor you see on a regular basis is usually the first physician you’ll reach out to about your symptoms. They’ll review your health history, give you a physical exam, and order tests to help them look for signs of DVT.
Once you get your diagnosis, they’ll talk over your treatment options with you and prescribe medications.
During your care, your doctor will check in to review your progress. They might also refer you to other doctors who have special training to treat DVT.
Your doctor might also help you manage your prescriptions to make sure that:
- You always have enough of your medicines.
- They’re all working correctly.
- None of them are conflicting or causing bad reactions.
Emergency Medical Team
Call an ambulance right away if you feel symptoms like:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- A feeling of dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations (heart racing)
- Coughing or coughing up blood
Once you arrive at the hospital, a team of staff members including doctors, nurses, and physician assistants (PAs) will see you. Each of these health care professionals can answer any questions you have about how they plan to test or treat you and why.
If you're headed out of town, your pharmacist can also offer you helpful suggestions on how to best prepare, including ordering extra medication for your trip.
They can also help you find the right compression stockings to help your DVT and show you how to wear them properly.
If your medical team believes you have DVT, your doctor may ask you to see a hematologist. That's a medical expert who specializes in treating blood diseases. They're trained to:
- Manage bleeding and clotting issues
- Figure out what exactly is causing your blood clots
- Determine how to keep them from forming
All of that will help your doctor decide which kind of blood thinner medication you should take.
Critical Care Physicians
If your DVT leads to a life-threatening emergency, your health care team could send you to critical care, which is often located in the intensive care unit (ICU) of your hospital. Here, a team of health care professionals will take close care of you 24 hours a day.
Beyond the usual members of your medical team, you might also work with technicians who perform lab or imaging tests, like ultrasounds, to figure out the cause of your symptoms. There may also be radiologists there to interpret and explain the results to your doctor.
Vascular Specialists and Surgeons
Your doctor may suggest that you see a vascular specialist, an expert at diagnosing and treating problems with your blood vessels and circulation.
They might also refer you to a vascular surgeon. They're trained to remove any clots clogging up the flow of blood in your veins.
Cardiovascular Specialists and Surgeons
At some point, you might meet with a cardiologist, a heart doctor whose specialty includes treating a variety of issues related to DVT.
If they determine that surgery could help you, you'll also meet a cardiothoracic surgeon. They have training to operate on your heart. A cardiothoracic surgeon can perform life-saving procedures for DVT emergencies, like pulmonary embolisms.