DVT | Dr. Jim Rybacki
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is when a blood clot forms within one of the deep veins of the body, most often the legs. The most common symptoms of DVT include leg pain and swelling. The skin may turn red or become warm to the touch. If you notice any of these symptoms it’s important that you contact a doctor right way, as DVT and complications of DVT can be fatal if untreated. A common complication of DVT is a pulmonary embolism, a blockage in one of the arteries of the lungs. Those with a pulmonary embolism may experience trouble breathing, chest pain when breathing in or coughing up blood.
Through a series of different imaging tests and blood tests, a doctor will be able to detect the presence of deep vein thrombosis and create the treatment plan that is right for you. The number one goal of deep vein thrombosis treatment is to prevent the current blood clot from getting bigger or causing a pulmonary embolism.
The two most commonly prescribed medications to help manage DVT are blood thinners (also known as anticoagulants) and clot busters (for more severe types of DVT or a pulmonary embolism).
Anticoagulants, or blood thinners, can be given as an injection or orally and despite the name it doesn’t cause the blood to actually become thinner but it does prevent clots from forming. They also won’t break up pre-existing clots, but they can prevent them from getting larger and causing serious health complications.
One of the most common intravenous anticoagulants is called Heparin. Your doctor may give you injectable blood thinners for a few days before prescribing an oral blood thinner. Oral blood thinners are often taken for months at a time. While you are taking blood thinners it’s important that you are careful when it comes to your everyday activities, as injuries can lead to excessive bleeding and severe bruising. If you experience heavy bleeding while taking a blood thinner it’s important that you turn to your doctor right away.
Other common side effects of taking anticoagulants include:
- Prolonged nosebleeds
- Bleeding gums
- Blood in your stool or urine
- Back pain
- Chest pain or trouble breathing
- Heavy periods
- Hair loss
It’s important to talk to your doctor about your everyday activities. While you may have to avoid certain activities due to bleeding risk, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still include exercise as a normal part of your life. You and your doctor should sit down and discuss what physical activities are safe while you are on blood thinners. You’ll also want to inform your dentist during routine checkups or dental procedures that you are taking blood thinners to reduce your risk of excessive bleeding.
Of course, if you have questions regarding your medication we want you to know that our pharmacist is here to answer all of your questions and assuage your concerns. Taking medication, particularly for potentially life-threatening conditions can be daunting and stressful and our goal is to take the stress out of it. Call us today if you have any questions or concerns about the medications you are taking.