A new resource for patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and for their health-care providers including pharmacists, aims to educate about interventional therapies.
Anticoagulant injections and oral anticoagulant medications are commonly prescribed after DVT is diagnosed. However, when more aggressive treatment is needed—such as when a DVT is very large, blocks major veins, or produces severe pain and swelling of the limb—interventional treatment may sometimes be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms, said the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA). NBCA has launched a new online resource,
“Every year, an estimated 900,000 Americans are affected by DVT, and among those, one-half will have long-term complications such as swelling and pain in the affected limb,” said Jeff Mirviss, President of Peripheral Interventions at Boston Scientific, which is funding the resource. “That is why we are pleased to partner with the National Blood Clot Alliance in developing an educational resource dedicated to building awareness about minimally-invasive treatment options used by clinicians to treat deep vein thrombosis.”
Pharmacists can use the resource to aid discussions of specific interventional therapy options, “which may be an important option for certain patients, such as those who experience a very large deep vein thrombosis or blood clot, blockage of major veins due to a blood clot, or a clot that produces severe pain and swelling of the limb,” Lisa Fullam, Director of Communications and Health Marketing with NBCA, told Drug Topics. “With cases such as these, interventional treatment or minimally-invasive surgery may sometimes be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms. This information can help educate patients about this treatment option and help them prepare to discuss this option with their health-care provider.”
Intervention therapies covered in the report include:
- Thrombolytic therapy or catheter-directed thrombolysis: Medications are used to dissolve clots, typically recommended for patients diagnosed with a recently-formed, very large DVTs. A clot-busting drug can be slowly infused into the blood clot, or it can be quickly delivered into the blood clot by a catheter-based device.
- Thrombectomy: Devices are used to physically break up the clot into smaller pieces and remove the clot pieces.
- Angioplasty: A balloon is inserted into the vein containing the DVT and then expanded to open up blood flow through the vein.
- Stent placement: A stent is placed to prop open the vein and prevent it from narrowing again. Angioplasty and stents also can be used for people with a chronic or older DVT and severe PTS and are believed to reduce congestion and improve symptoms.
- Filters: For people diagnosed with a DVT who are unable to take anticoagulation therapies, a filter may be placed into the inferior vena cava. The filter is used to catch blood clots that move up from the lower body and prevent them from entering the lungs.
While oral anticoagulation therapies are not discussed in the report, NBCA also has OAC information on its web site.