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Deep Vein Thrombosis / DVT Treatment

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a dangerous condition in which one or more blood clots forms in the deep veins of the body. For example, a blood clot can form in the leg.

The clotting itself can cause discomfort, swelling, and other symptoms. The real danger of deep vein thrombosis arises when a blood clot breaks free. A moving blood clot can travel through the venous system and lodge in the lungs. This situation is dangerous and can be fatal.

DVT treatment requires meeting three basic needs:

  • Stop the blood clot from growing
  • Stop the blood clot from breaking loose
  • Stop the condition from happening again

Doctors will recommend the following options for deep vein thrombosis treatment:

  • Blood Thinners – a combination of intravenous and oral medication to thin the blood and reduce the risk of clotting. Usually prescribed for up to three months.
  • Thrombolytics (clotbusters) – a more intensive round of intravenous medication may be required if the blood clot does not react to the blood thinners.
  • Filters – a filter is installed in the vena cava (large vein in the abdomen) to prevent any blood clots from reaching the lungs.
  • Compression Sleeves – improve circulation and reduce the possibility of blood clots forming in the leg. Usually worn for a year or more after treatment.

DVT Symptoms

  • Blood clot in the leg
  • Swelling in the lower leg, ankle, and/or foot
  • Pain that radiates down the calf into the ankle and foot
  • Pain akin to a charley horse in the calf area
  • Affected area is warm to the touch
  • Changes in skin color - skin may be pale, or tinged with red or blue
  • In some cases, no symptoms are noted

DVT Causes

  • Venous insufficiency (your own or running in your family)
  • Prescriptions that can increase blood clotting
  • Medical conditions such as some cancers, heart disease, bowel disease
  • Sitting for a long period (such as in a car or on a plane)
  • Prolonged bed rest
  • Hormone therapy
  • Overweight
  • Being over age 60
  • Smoking
  • Being tall