• Blood thinners. DVT is most commonly treated with anticoagulants, also called blood thinners. These drugs don’t break up existing blood clots, but they can prevent clots from getting bigger, prevent the clot from breaking loose and traveling to the lungs and reduce your risk of developing more clots.
Blood thinners may be taken by mouth or given by IV or an injection under the skin. The most commonly used injectable blood thinners for DVT are enoxaparin (Lovenox) and fondaparinux (Arixtra). Oral medications such as Eliquis, Xarelto and Pradaxa are well tolerated and are more common than injections in the out-patient setting. Sometimes warfarin is used, but less commonly as it requires regular blood tests and monitoring
Oral medications can be started immediately after diagnosis.
Pregnant women shouldn’t take certain blood-thinning medications like most oral blood thinners, but can usually take lovenox injections safely. Collaboration with you OB doctor is important to choose a medication safe for mom and baby.
You might need to take blood thinner pills for three months or longer. The time frame depends on the cause of the clot, the extent and severity and risk for another clot in the future. If an underlying blood clotting disorder is suspected, you may be referred to hematology for blood tests and long term recommendations.
• Clot busters. Also called thrombolytics, these drugs might be prescribed if you have a more serious type of DVT or PE, or if other medications aren’t working.
These drugs are given either by IV or through a tube (catheter) placed directly into the clot. Clot busters can cause serious bleeding, so they’re usually only used for people with severe blood clots.
• Filters. If you can’t take medicines to thin your blood, you might have a filter inserted into a large vein — the vena cava — in your abdomen. A vena cava filter prevents clots that break loose from lodging in your lungs.
• Compression stockings. These special knee socks reduce the chances that your blood will pool and clot. To help prevent swelling associated with deep vein thrombosis, wear them on your legs from your feet to about the level of your knees. You should wear these stockings during the day for at least two years, if possible.