DVT Can Increase Heart Attack Risk

Patients who have had DVT — deep vein thrombosis — may be at higher risk for a heart attack or stroke, especially during the first year after diagnosis, according to a recently released Danish study that followed DVT patients for a 20-year period. Typically, doctors see heart attacks that are caused by blood clots in arteries, not veins. However, new research in the study shows DVTs can move to arteries even years after initially discovered, which then can cause heart attacks or strokes.

These studies show risk for heart attacks and strokes increase by 60 percent during the first year for DVT patients, when compared with non-DVT patients. After the first year, the increased risk for a heart attack or stroke decreases but remains between 20-40 percent higher than those of non-DVT patients.

DVT patients are encouraged to listen to their doctor and follow all guidance on how best to lower their individual chances for heart attack and stroke after a DVT.

There are many different strategies to lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. And with additional education to support the need to monitor this increased risk, those in the DVT-treatment community now know better how to help DVT patients. Patients should consult with their doctor immediately after they finish the initial treatment for DVT, as additional complications are more likely to arise the closer they are to the initial episode.

Here are some options doctors will recommend to patients after having a DVT:

  • Start or continue taking blood thinning medications. Blood thinners will help reduce the formation of blood clots and promote better overall blood flow. If existing DVT clots transfer from veins to arteries, blood thinners can reduce the chance they will cause secondary issues.
  • Use compression pumps and sleeves as prescribed by your physician. These at-home products allow patients to maintain their mobility while improving their safety and continuing to ensure proper blood flow.
  • Add moderate exercise to a daily routine. Walking, light aerobics or swimming can be highly beneficial in lowering heart attack and stroke chances.
  • Make healthy choices like quitting smoking or switching to a low-fat, high-fiber diet. Small lifestyle changes can cause great reductions in risk, especially over long periods of time.
  • Have your doctor monitor your blood pressure regularly and report any history of blood clotting or heart attacks in your family history.

For more information, DVT patients should talk with their doctor to learn what medications, compression products, exercise and lifestyle choices will best lower their risk for additional complications.