Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Life after DVT

The goal for treatment of DVT is to prevent the blood clot from getting bigger and breaking loose, as well as to reduce the chances of another DVT (about one-third of DVT patients will have a recurrence within 10 years). Treatment can include anticoagulation medications (blood thinners) and graduated compression stockings. 

Among people who have had a DVT, one-third experience something called post-thrombotic syndrome, or PTS. Symptoms of PTS include swelling, redness, chronic leg pain, and ulcers. PTS can be expensive to treat and the pain and discomfort it causes can make it extremely difficult for people to get around.

Those with DVT should wear graduated compression stockings on a daily basis, since several studies strongly suggest that they can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing PTS. In fact, according to the American College of Chest Physicians, wearing compression stockings for two years following DVT reduces the incidence of post-thrombotic syndrome by half.

Unlike insufficiency in the superficial venous system, there is no FDA-approved treatment for PTS besides compression stockings and supportive care. 

Of course the best way to prevent PTS is to never have a blood clot in the first place. If you think you might have a DVT, get to the emergency room as soon as you can. In most cases, the affected area— usually in the leg— will be painful, swollen or tender, with a redness or discoloration of the skin. Even a muscle cramp that feels especially sharp and painful can be an indication of DVT. Early detection can go a long way toward preserving your quality of life-- or even saving your life.

Education, of course, is key to preventing this very common disease. Here are a few resources where you can learn more:

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