A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that develops when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in your legs. DVT is a serious problem: it comes with a high risk of recurrence, death, or chronic symptoms like pain and swelling.
While all this sounds (and is) scary, there’s still hope: a new study published in the journal Blood has found that people with DVT can cut their risk of complications by starting compression therapy within the first 24 hours.
The study explored whether compression therapy could prevent residual vein occlusion and post thrombotic syndrome. Residual vein occlusion—when clots stay in your veins with or without symptoms—likely contributes to the development of post-thrombotic syndrome, a collection of symptoms that includes pain, swelling, discoloration and scaling in the leg affected by DVT.
Almost 600 DVT patients in the Netherlands were included in the study, and they all received compression therapy within 24 hours of diagnosis; they were compared to patients that started compression therapy later in their treatment journey. In addition to their compression therapy, all patients received anti-clotting medications.
What researchers found was promising: Patients who got immediate compression therapy were 20% less likely to develop residual vein occlusion and 8% less likely to suffer post-thrombotic syndrome compared with those who delayed compression.
Even better news? Compression therapy was not associated with any adverse side effects. And while all DVT patients appeared to benefit from compression, those with clots lower down in the leg enjoyed the greatest results.
Study author Dr. ten Cate-Hoek says, “Although the use of compression stockings after DVT is routine across much of Europe, it is less common in the United States, where guidelines emphasize compression primarily for patients who complain of ongoing symptoms…Given these outcomes, and that compression stockings are fairly easy to self-administer, relatively inexpensive, and minimally intrusive, compression therapy offers a clear benefit for all patients with DVT.”