Having a DVT can be pretty scary; your treatment must start ASAP, you have to attend multiple appointments, your legs hurts a lot… Although 1 out of 4 deaths in the world is related to thrombosis, the treatment and chances of recovery are very good in the UK! So, don’t worry and follow these tips that will make your life easier.
1. Know your blood thinner
It is important to know your anticoagulant, how it works and the risks associated. For instance, Warfarin, which is one of the oldest and most commonly prescribed blood thinners, requires regular blood tests to check your INR. You can find a recap on Warfarin and Direct Oral Anticoagulant here.
2. Check for medication interaction
Blood thinners can be tricky drugs because they interact with many other medications, like 240 of them for Warfarin! They are particularly risky with painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. Make sure your GP knows about all the medications you take – including over the counter drugs and supplements – and check that none can cause a problematic interaction.
3. Have a break from alcohol
Alcohol reduces the effectiveness of some blood thinners, particularly warfarin. For this reason, GPs strongly recommend limiting alcohol consumption to one or two drinks at a time; more may raise your INR. No study has shown high risks with Rivaroxaban or Apixaban but keep in mind that alcohol actually dehydrates you and should be taken in moderation!
4. Beware some veggies
Green and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, garden cress, etc. are rich in vitamin K. This is the vitamin your liver uses to make the proteins that cause blood clots and Warfarin works by interfering with this clotting action.
5. Chat with other DVT patients
If you have been treated by GP Care, you will be invited to our DVT Patient Support Group which enables people to receive tips from professionals but also share their experience with patients who are in the same situation. You can also join the ACE forum on HealthUnlocked, which is aimed at patients impacted by thrombotic disorders such as atrial fibrillation, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).
6. Take precaution when you travel – YES, you can travel!
Whether you are flying, taking the train, the bus or the car, travelling involves to spend a lot of time being still. To prevent blood clots from recurring, you have to move your legs regularly. If you can, have regular breaks from sitting; by going for a short walk for example. You’ll find below some leg exercise to keep you moving! Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to ensure you stay hydrated. Bonus, you will then have to walk to the loo! If you’re thinking about sleeping pills, this is a bad idea as it would keep you immobile. You’ll have a good night of sleep when you get to your destination! Finally, see your GP before you leave. He or she may prescribe you compression stockings.
7. Move more
You already know how good physical activity is for you; it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, helps lose weight, strengthens your bones and muscles, improves your mood… Well, it will also benefit your DVT recovery! It gets your blood moving and prevents swelling, which is one of the most uncomfortable effects of DVT. If sport is not your cup of tea, don’t worry; we have prepared some gentle leg exercises that will improve your blood flow.
Put your feet flat on the floor. Raise your toes in the air while keeping your heels on the ground. Then reverse, plant your toes, raise your heels and hold.
Lift your foot off the floor and make circles in the air with your toes clockwise, then counter clockwise. You can alternate legs or work both at the same time.
Straighten one leg. Then, slowly lower your foot while bending at the knee. Alternate legs.
Lift your knee up as much as possible in a marching movement, then slowly lower and alternate legs.
8. Consult your GP
It is highly recommended to see your doctor 3 months after the end of your treatment. You can print out and fill this reminder from our website.
If your symptoms get worse
If you have any of the following symptoms:
- Swollen, red and/or painful legs
- Cough, with or without blood
- Chest pain
Get medical advice immediately by calling your GP or dialling 111 or attend the nearest A&E and tell them about your DVT conditions. If you collapse, call 999 immediately.
If you need extra support or want to raise awareness on thrombosis, get in touch with Thrombosis UK. This charity is made of friendly and knowledgeable people and they have a lot of resources and awareness materials to share with you!