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Deep Venous Thrombosis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Deep Venous Thrombosis (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Deep venous thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the body. The deep veins in the legs, thighs, and hips are the most common sites for DVT. The clot prevents the normal flow of blood in the vein. The blood backs up and causes pain and swelling.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • The DVT can break into smaller pieces. Each piece is called an embolus. The embolus can travel to your heart, lungs, or brain, and decrease the blood supply to that organ. This can cause life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke. A vena cava filter can cause more blood clots to form. Medicines used to treat DVT can cause growth problems in fetuses. These medicines can also cause life-threatening bleeding.

  • Increased pressure and decreased blood flow can damage the tissues around the clot. The valves in the deep veins that allow your blood to flow back to your heart can be damaged. This can cause long-term pain and swelling, such as in your leg. Contact your caregiver if you have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. These medicines may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily.

    • Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush. If you shave, use an electric razor. Avoid activities that can cause bruising or bleeding.

    • Tell your primary healthcare provider (PHP) about all medicines you take because many medicines cannot be used with anticoagulants. Do not start or stop any medicines unless your PHP tells you to. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.

    • You will need regular blood tests so your PHP can decide how much medicine you need. Take anticoagulants exactly as directed. Tell your PHP right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.

    • If you take warfarin, some foods can change how your blood clots. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grapes, and other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you take warfarin.

  • Blood thinners: This medicine helps stop clots from forming in the blood.

  • Clot busters: This medicine helps break apart clots. It is given IV and may be given at the same time as other blood thinners. This medicine could save your life because blood clots in the heart, lungs or brain can kill you. Be careful because you may bleed or bruise easily.

  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Compression ultrasound: This is a test that uses sound waves to see your veins on a TV-like screen. Caregivers look for clots in the veins near the area of your pain and redness.

  • Contrast venography: This is a special x-ray of a vein after a dye has been put in. The dye makes the vein easier to see on the x-ray. People who are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to this dye. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any of these.

Treatments:

  • Compression stockings: Your caregiver may order compression stockings for you to wear. These are tight elastic stockings that put pressure on your legs. The pressure is highest near the toe and decreases as it goes towards the thighs. Wearing pressure stockings help push blood back up to the heart and keeps clots from forming. Ask your caregiver for more information on using compression stockings.

  • Pneumatic boots: Inflatable boots are put on your legs. The boots are connected to an air pump. The pump tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. This helps improve blood flow to prevent clots.

  • Inferior vena cava filter: This is a filter that is surgically placed inside the large vein bringing blood to your heart from your lower body. It is used when you cannot be treated with blood thinners. The filter traps clots in your blood to prevent you from getting a pulmonary embolus. Ask your caregiver for more information about inferior vena cava filters.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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