Blood Clot Treatment
Blood clots can be very serious, so symptoms of blood clots should be evaluated by a doctor immediately. If not treated, a clot can break free and cause a pulmonary embolism—where the clot gets stuck in a blood vessel in the lung, causing severe shortness of breath and even sudden death.
Treatment for blood clots depends on where the clot is in the body, and the severity of the condition. Blood-thinning medications are commonly used to prevent blood clots from forming or getting bigger. Thrombolytic medications can break up existing clots.
Catheter-directed treatments, such as percutaneous transcatheter treatment, are done by inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin. The tube is moved to the site of the clot and used to break up the clot or deliver clot-dissolving thrombolytic drugs directly.
Surgical thrombectomy, in which the clot is surgically removed from the vein or artery, is often used in arms or legs, but can be used elsewhere in the body.
For patients who are at high risk of developing clots in the deep veins of the legs—also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—preventive measures should be considered. In addition to or instead of blood thinners, intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices can be very effective. A cuff is placed around the leg, where it periodically fills with air and squeezes, helping move blood toward the heart.