If you are diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), your doctor may suggest anticoagulation treatment. The goal of anticoagulation is to reduce the body’s ability to form blood clots by inhibiting the liver’s output of vitamin K. This is important because blood clots that form in the lower body can break apart, allowing fragments to travel through the blood vessels to the heart and lungs and resulting in serious health complications. It should be noted that anticoagulation treatment will not dissolve blood clots that already exist in the body, but it will help prevent them from growing larger.
Anticoagulation treatment initially consists of the IV administration of unfractionated heparin (UH) or subcutaneous (SC) low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH), depending on the patient’s individual needs. Patients with renal failure, for example, are better treated with unfractionated heparin since LMWH is excreted primarily via the kidneys.
After initial IV treatment, patients move into the second phase of the treatment plan that includes the administration of an oral vitamin K prohibitor such as Coumadin.
The duration of anticoagulation treatment depends on a number of factors, such as:
- The severity and location of the blood clot
- The presence of cancer
- Recent hip or knee surgeries
- Recurrence of DVT
- Presence of hypercoagulability
If you are diagnosed with DVT, your doctor will help you determine whether or not anticoagulation treatment is the best option for you and, if it is, they will help you develop a treatment plan that most effectively treats your condition based on your medical history.