Deep Vein Thrombosis: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

Major blood vessels in the body

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in certain veins of the legs, pelvis, or arms. Blood clots in these veins need to be treated because they can get bigger, break loose, and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. A blood clot in a lung can be life-threatening.

The doctor may have given you a blood thinner (anticoagulant). A blood thinner can stop the blood clot from growing larger and prevent new clots from forming. You will need to take a blood thinner for 3 to 6 months or longer.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If you are taking a blood thinner, be sure you get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
  • Wear compression stockings if your doctor recommends them. These stockings are tighter at the feet than on the legs. They may reduce pain and swelling in your legs. But there are different types of stockings, and they need to fit right. So your doctor will recommend what you need.
  • When you sit, use a pillow to raise the arm or leg that has the blood clot. Try to keep it above the level of your heart.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your lung (called a pulmonary embolism). These include:
    • Sudden chest pain.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Coughing up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse trouble breathing.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your arm or leg. These may include:
    • Pain in the arm, calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in the arm, leg, or groin.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter D894 in the search box to learn more about "Deep Vein Thrombosis: Care Instructions".