Treatment and Prevention of Blood Clots

Blood clots are commonly treated using anticoagulants.

Superficial venous clots can be treated symptomatically with warm compresses and mild medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Clots formed in deeper veins or arteries require medications like antiplatelet, anticoagulant and thrombolytic agents.

  • Antiplatelet medications: Since the patient who develops an arterial clot is at a risk for developing more clots, he/she should receive antiplatelet medications like aspirin to prevent clotting of blood.
    • Anticoagulants: Heparin or low molecular weight heparin is used as a blood thinner to treat blood clots. Warfarin is another commonly used blood thinner. Heparin is preferred to warfarin in pregnant women suffering from blood clots as warfarin is harmful to the fetus.
    • Thrombolytic agents: Thrombolytic agents or clot busters like Alteplase act by dissolving the blood clot and are used in some conditions including heart attack.
    • Cardiac catheterization is performed in some cases with a block in the cardiac arteries to restore the blood flow. A surgical procedure may also be necessary in deep vein thrombosis.
    • Identification and treatment of risk factors: It is necessary to identify risk factors causing the clot and treat them. Thus, conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high lipid levels should be treated. The patient should be advised to stop smoking.

    How can Blood Clots be Prevented?

    • Identify and treat conditions that predispose to blood clotting such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes or heart disease
    • Avoiding sedentary lifestyle, stop smoking and drinking excessive alcohol, and lose weight if necessary
    • Exercise regularly
    • Change your position often during long trips
    • Consult the doctor periodically if you are suffering from genetic defects that cause blood clots or if you are on hormonal medications.

    References:

    1. Treatment of Blood Clots - (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/20/e138.full)
    2. Blood Clots and Strokes: A Guide for Parents and Little Folks - By Maureen Andrew, Maureen Andrew, MD.
    3. Blood Clotting Disorders (Hypercoagulable States) - (http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/vascular/hypercoagstate.aspx)

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