A Patient’s Guide to Recovery After Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism
When a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the body, it is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT occurs most commonly in the leg; however, it can occur anywhere in the body, such as the veins in the arm, abdomen, pelvis, and around the brain. A complication of DVT in legs and arms is pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE occurs when a blood clot breaks off from a DVT and travels through the blood stream, traversing the right atrium and right ventricle, and lodging in the lung.
How Long Will I Need Treatment With an Anticoagulant?
The primary treatment for DVT and PE is anticoagulation with blood thinners. These medications increase the time it takes for blood to clot. They prevent new clots from forming and existing clots from growing larger. Anticoagulants do not dissolve a clot. The body naturally dissolves a clot over time, sometimes completely, sometimes only partially.
The duration of time you will need to take an anticoagulant depends on a number of factors your doctor will review with you, such as the following:
The location of the clot (whether your clot was in the calf only or further up in the leg in the thigh or pelvis)
Why the clot formed (what risk factors contributed to your clot)
An assessment of your risk for developing future clots if your anticoagulant is stopped (what risk factors you have which may cause another clot to develop)
How well you have tolerated the anticoagulant and what your risk for bleeding is if you stay …