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How are blood clots treated?

A:

Quick Answer

Doctors treat blood clots with medication: anticoagulants, heparin, warfarin, Xarelto and Pradaxa rank among the most common treatments for blood clots. Blood clots arise in virtually all areas of the body, including the arms, legs, heart and brain. Treatment varies depending on severity of clots, and usually includes a combination of fast-acting blood thinners and long-term medications to regulate and stabilize blood clotting.

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Full Answer

Blood clots, also called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, form in the veins. Left untreated, they can grow, causing unpleasant symptoms such as swelling and tingling, and even break off, traveling through the blood stream and into vital organs, such as the lungs. Upon the discovery of blood clots, most people receive a fast-acting medication, typically heparin, warfarin and low weight molecular heparin. These medicines prevent the risk of future blood clots and keep current clots from growing, according to the National Blood Clot Alliance. Hospitalized patients typically receive heparin through an IV tube.

Initially under the guidance of treating physicians, patients administer injections of low-weight molecular heparin medication. They continue injections of these shots at home, and do not need routine blood monitoring. Doctors add doses of warfarin for long-term care. Patients must maintain certain diets while on warfarin and schedule routine blood tests. Newer anticoagulants, such as Xarelto and Pradaxa, do not require monitoring. While these medicines treat all blood clots, doctors prescribe others, such as Eliquis, for clots caused by strokes and other conditions.

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