Indeed, deep vein thrombosis represents an epidemic in American society, affecting hundreds of thousands of patients every year. Fortunately we have new developments in treatment and in assessing risk for developing this life changing condition. First of all, the principles of managing blood clots are not uniformly applied. Randomized trials have identified three crucial steps that should be adhered to whenever it is possible, 1) Anticoagulation, 2) Ambulation/Walking, 3) Compression therapy.
Anticoagulation may come in injections, or new novel blood thinners called Xa Inhibitors. Xa Inhibitors offer the advantages of quicker onset of action compared to traditional heparins/warfarin, and it avoids the need of frequent blood testing to maintain therapeutic levels. Not all patients are candidates for these newer agents, but rest assured that changes are coming. One of the biggest changes is the ability to effectively assess an individual’s risk for developing DVT by answering questions for the Caprini DVT Score. Dr. Caprini’s decade of work has now been validated as a number of studies bear evidence that DVT risk can be effectively assessed and treatment employed to potentially avoid this life threatening limb condition.
Walking has been shown to reduce complications when compared to bed rest in patients with acute DVT. The calf muscle pump is the peripheral heart. With miles of veins in each leg, the calf muscle will help redirect blood back to the heart through pathways not affected by the blood clot. Too many times the old therapy of bed rest is subscribed when a patient is perfectly able to walk. Walking is one of the healthiest vein activities one can do and has been shown to lessen complications and symptoms related to blood clots.
Compression therapy is a funny thing. TED stockings are often prescribed but have very little compression. Guidelines for swollen legs suggest a 30-40 mmHg stocking, and nearly all patients with DVT have swollen leg as a primary symptom. The key is that there are many ways to compress the leg and promote effective healing. Compression therapy was shown superior to limbs without compression and has been identified as the single most effective way to reduce the risk of post thrombosis syndrome (painful, swollen leg, often ulcerated after DVT). We carry an assortment of high quality garments that allow us to find the right compression answer for patients in need.
If you would like to learn more about Deep Vein Thrombosis, the role of anticoagulants, effective compression therapy, or simply more about you DVT risk, call us at 807-2770.