Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a blood clot that has formed in a vein, usually deep in a leg. Depending on the size and severity of the clot, NYU Langone doctors create a treatment plan that includes anticoagulant and thrombolytic medications, often referred to as blood thinners and clot busters, respectively.
Anticoagulants, such as heparin, warfarin, dabigatran, apixaban, and rivaroxaban, are medications that thin the blood and help to dissolve blood clots. They also can slow the formation of clots and prevent them from breaking loose from the vein and traveling to the lungs, where clots can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
People with deep vein thrombosis usually take an anticoagulant by mouth for the long term to avoid further blood clots.
Side effects of anticoagulants may include excessive bleeding. Your doctor evaluates your risk and monitors you regularly while you take one of these medications.
Anticoagulants also decrease the chances of developing deep vein thrombosis, so doctors may prescribe them to help prevent the condition in people at high risk.
While many blood clots dissolve with the help of blood thinners, some dangerous clots require fast-acting clot-busting medications called thrombolytics. Because thrombolytics can cause severe bleeding, doctors usually give them only to people with large, severe clots that increase risk of pulmonary embolism. If you receive a thrombolytic, your doctor monitors you closely.
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