DVT Medications

If you have been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), your doctor (often a specialist called a hematologist) will probably recommend medications to fight blood clots, and you should learn about those drugs.

Regardless of what DVT medications you take, the goals for your treatment are:

  1. Keep DVTs from growing.
  2. Prevent DVTs from breaking loose and making their way to your lungs.
  3. Reduce the chances you get new DVT clots.

Blood Thinners

The most common type of DVT medication is called blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants. They help keep clots from growing and from coming back.

Your doctor may want you to take blood thinners for 3 months or longer. If your blood clots developed after a surgery, you may be on medication for a shorter time. In some circumstances, your doctor may want you on blood thinners for more than a few months or indefinitely.

Sometimes you will start your treatment taking blood thinners by IV or injection. The most prescribed of these medications are:

After a few days, your doctor may switch you to a blood thinner in tablet or capsule form, such as:

Other blood thinner tablets can be prescribed and taken immediately after a DVT diagnosis, skipping the IV or injectable medications. Many doctors believe these medications, also known as IX inhibitors, can dissolve blood clots with less risk of bleeding. These blood thinners include:

Make sure to take your blood thinners exactly as prescribed to avoid potentially serious side effects. These can include:

Contact your doctor immediately if you start to have these side effects. Also remember, pregnant women shouldn’t take certain blood thinners.

Blood thinners can change the way other medications work and vice versa. Make sure your doctor knows about all the medicines you take.

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Clot Busters

These medications are also known as thrombolytics. A doctor might prescribe them if your clots from DVT are serious, causing severe swelling or blocking blood flow in your leg, and blood thinners don’t help enough. Clot busters can sometimes dissolve a clot in just a few days.

Clot busters are taken either by IV or by a catheter inserted directly into a clot. The most commonly used medications of this type include:

  • Alteplase (Activase)
  • Anistreplase (Eminase)
  • Prourokinase (proUK)
  • Reteplase (Retavase)
  • Streptokinase (Streptase)
  • Tenecteplase (Metalyse, TNKase)
  • Urokinase (Abbokinase, Kinlytic)

These medications sometimes can lead to severe bleeding, so doctors will make sure you are monitored closely when you take them.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Some studies show that taking aspirin regularly can cut the risk of DVT clots returning by one-third without increasing the risk of bleeding. But aspirin has the most impact when you take it regularly after you finish with prescription medication that you take after DVT surgery. And since aspirin therapy is not part of routine treatment of DVT, you should talk about it first with your doctor.

Treatment Without Medications

Not every suggestion from your doctor about managing DVT involves drugs. You may also get a recommendation for:

  • Compression stockings , which you could wear for 2 years or longer to help keep blood from clotting in your legs.
  • Vena cava filters, which are inserted during a minor surgical procedure into a large vein in your abdomen. They block any clots that break loose from lodging in your lungs. Doctors often recommend them if you have problems taking blood thinners.

The right treatments can help a great deal with your blood clotting issues. Follow the instructions on your DVT-related prescriptions exactly, and inform your doctor immediately if any problems arise.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 05, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – Symptoms and Causes,” “Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – Diagnosis and Treatment.”

U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Blood Thinner Pills: Your Guide to Using Them Safely.”

Stanford Health Care: “Medications for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).”

Cleveland Clinic: “Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Management and Treatment.”

New York University Langone Health: “Medications for Deep Vein Thrombosis.”

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute: “Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).”

CDC: “What is Venous Thromboembolism?”

American Heart Association: “Prevention and Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).”

StatPearls Publishing: “Thrombolytic Therapy.”

Vascular Health and Risk Management: “The role of factor XA inhibitors in venous thromboembolism treatment.”

American Blood Clot Association: “Can Aspirin Prevent a DVT?”

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