Blood Home > DVT Treatments

When treating DVT, the goals are to stop the clot from getting bigger, keep the clot from traveling to the lungs, and reduce the chance of having another blood clot. Common treatments for this condition include medications, vena cava filters, and graduated compression stockings.

An Overview of DVT Treatments

The main goals of treatment are to:
  • Stop the clot from getting bigger
  • Prevent the clot from breaking off from the vein and moving to the lungs
  • Reduce a person's chance of having another blood clot.
There are several medications used for DVT treatment. These medications include:
  • Anticoagulants
  • Thrombolytics
  • Thrombin inhibitors.
Other treatments for DVT include a vena cava filter and graduated compression stockings.

Treating DVT With Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, decrease the blood's ability to clot. Anticoagulants are used to stop clots from getting bigger and to prevent blood clots from forming. However, anticoagulants do not break up blood clots that have already formed. Anticoagulants can be taken in pill form (warfarin) or as an injection or shot (heparin).
Heparin and warfarin (also known under the brand name of Coumadin®) may be given at the same time. Heparin will act quickly, while warfarin will take two to three days before it will start to work. Once the warfarin is working, the heparin will be stopped. However, pregnant women cannot take warfarin, so they will be treated only with heparin. Warfarin is currently the only FDA approved blood thinner that is taken orally.
Treatment with anticoagulants usually lasts for three to six months. However, the following situations may change the length of DVT treatment:
  • If a blood clot occurred after a short-term risk like surgery, treatment may be shorter
  • If you have had clots before, longer treatment will be needed
  • If you have another illness (like cancer) that you are being treated for, treatment will be needed as long as those risk factors are present.
The most common side effect of anticoagulants is bleeding. You should call your doctor immediately if you are taking warfarin or heparin and have easy bruising or bleeding. Warfarin also interacts with many other medications. Therefore, you should tell your doctor all of the medications you are on, including over-the-counter medications.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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