Deep Vein Thrombosis
Reference Anticoagulant Opens New Window medicines, also called blood thinners, are used to prevent and treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
These medicines prevent new clots from forming and prevent existing clots from getting larger. They don't break up or dissolve existing blood clots.
For prevention, anticoagulants might be used:
- After some types of surgery.
- If you have a high risk for Reference pulmonary embolism Opens New Window.
For treatment, you might take more than one type of anticoagulant for a short time: heparin as a shot and warfarin as a pill. This ensures that your medicine starts working right away. You might take heparin for a few days. You'll likely take the pill for a few months or more.
Heparin is injected. It starts working right away.
The two types of heparin are:
- Reference Unfractionated heparin. This medicine is typically used in the hospital.
- Reference Low-molecular-weight heparin. You can give yourself shots of this medicine at home.
Reference Warfarin is a pill that you will likely take along with heparin for a few days. Then you might take warfarin for a few months or more.
Reference Rivaroxaban is a pill given after surgery, such as hip or knee replacement, to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
Fondaparinux (Arixtra) is an injected anticoagulant. It is used only in the hospital.
Reference Thrombolytics are used to quickly dissolve a clot in certain people. They are only used in the hospital.
How long will you need medicine?
If you're taking anticoagulants after surgery to prevent DVT, you only need the medicine for a short time. This might be 2 weeks or more, depending on the medicine and the type of surgery you had.
For treatment of deep vein thrombosis, you will likely take an anticoagulant for at least three months. You might take it longer, depending on your health.
You might take anticoagulants for a long time, maybe the rest of your life, if you:
- Have had blood clots before or have cancer or other risk factors that make it likely you'll get another blood clot.
- Have Reference inherited blood-clotting problems.
Safety tips for anticoagulants
If you take an anticoagulant, you can take steps to prevent bleeding. This includes preventing injuries and getting regular blood tests if needed.
- Reference Reference Warfarin: Taking Your Medicine Safely
- Reference Reference Blood Thinners Other Than Warfarin: Taking Them Safely
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 17, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Jeffrey S. Ginsberg, MD - Hematology