Treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE)

VTE treatment includes both pharmaceutical and mechanical interventions such as anticoagulating drugs or compression stockings [1]. Your doctor will decide on the right treatment option for you.

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants are the most common treatment for VTE and are given either as a tablet, injection or infusion [2, 3]. These may be given on their own or in combination [1]. Your doctor will determine what is the best treatment for your VTE.

Anticoagulants interact with the clotting process in the blood and reduce the blood's tendency to clot. As anticoagulants help to stop blood clots from getting larger and reduce the risk of other clots developing, it is important to know that the risk of bleeding is greater [2].

With anticoagulant treatment, existing clots usually dissolve and disappear over time. Effective anticoagulation is important to prevent the extension and recurrence of DVT and PE, as well as the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome [2].

Compression stockings

Other treatments for VTE

Thrombolytics are a type of drug used in selected cases to dissolve blood clots and may be given by using a catheter, a long, slender tube that is inserted into the vein to deliver the clot-dissolving drug [4].

Occasionally, a small filter called an inferior vena cava filter is inserted into a large vein in the groin or neck, that is intended to catch clots as they move through the body to the lungs to help prevent PE occurring [1].

Compression stockings (also called graduated compression stockings) are often prescribed after a DVT [1]. They are used to reduce the chronic swelling that can occur after a DVT and may help to prevent long-term side effects of DVT such as post-thrombotic syndrome [5].

VTEMatters offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice.

References

  1. Tran HA et al. New guidelines from the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand for the diagnosis and management of venous thromboembolism. Med J Aus. 2019. Accessed on March 13, 2019.
  2. Chapman NH et al. Venous thromboembolism: Management in general practice. Australian Family Physician 2009; 38: 36-40.
  3. Brieger D & Curnow J. Anticoagulation: a GP primer on the new oral anticoagulants. Australian Family Physician 2014; 43: 254-9.
  4. Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery. Thrombolysis. Accessed on 22 November 2018.
  5. Clot Connect. Compression stockings after deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Accessed on 22 November 2018.