Deep Vein Thrombosis - Prophylaxis

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DVT Prophylaxis: what are the prevention measures?

Thrombosis prevention is also known as thrombosis prophylaxis.   It comprises treatments that are designed to counteract the formation of blood clots inside blood vessels.  These prevention measures often begin just after someone has had surgery, as this puts them at higher risk of having deep vein thrombosis, largely due to lack of movement afterward.  Additionally, DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is often linked to air travel as sitting in confined spaces without moving for a long periods of time negatively influences the blood flow in the vessels.

Risk factors

Being aware of these common risk factors, and taking steps to avoid them, is an important part of helping to prevent thrombosis:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Taking oral contraceptives
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Smoking
  • Dehydration
  • Long periods of inactivity, lying or sitting down, such as on long journeys (especially long-haul flights) or while in hospital.


Risk assessment

A risk assessment is a helpful way to begin DVT prophylaxis begin with a risk assessment.  The risk assessment considers risk factors related to exposure (type of surgical procedure/trauma/acute disease, extent of immobilization) and disposition (individual inherited and acquired factors).  In addition, the health status (diseases such as cancer, the age, dehydration, obesity, the VTE risk and the bleeding risk) influences the personal risk for DVT development.

Thrombosis prophylaxis treatment options

There are several ways to help prevent thrombosis.  For example, wearing compression stockings can help reduce swelling in tissues and promote better blood flow.  In high-risk patients – such as hospitalized patients at increased risk of thrombosis who are bleeding, or are at high risk of major bleeding – medical compression stocking (MCS) (from 15 to 30 mmHg) and anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis are recommended.  Medical compression stockings are especially recommended for thromboprophylaxis, if anticoagulants are contraindicated. 

Their use is also suggested during long-distance travelling, to prevent DVT incidence in patients at risk.  This is especially effective when combined with regular exercise during the journey, such as walking down the aisle and doing leg exercises.

Drug therapy is also a very common form of thrombosis prophylaxis.  The use of compression stockings and medication can be supplemented with the simple technique of resting with your legs above the level of your heart.  This can be done after surgery, for example, which assists in taking pressure off the legs and promotes the flow of blood out of the leg veins and to move throughout the body.

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