If You Have DVT, Then Here’s an App to Help You Manage Your Anticoagulant Medication and Control Symptoms
If You Have Deep Vein Thrombosis, You Are Usually Required to Take Medication. Let MyTherapy Help You Manage Your DVT Effectively
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body (usually the legs). DVT can cause leg pain or swelling, but can also be asymptomatic. This condition can be life-threatening because blood clots in the veins can become dislodged and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism that blocks the flow of blood. DVT can be caused by inactivity for long periods of time (such as being confined to a bed or after surgery) or if you have another medical condition that affects how your blood clots. There are special types of drugs called anticoagulants (for example warfarin and rivaroxaban) that can reduce blood clots and minimize the risks associated with DVT. These drugs need to be taken for several months at a time and often require careful monitoring by your doctor.
If you have DVT and have been prescribed medication for it, smartphone medication reminder apps can be a valuable tool when it comes to helping you stay on top of your medication intake. For example, MyTherapy is an app that creates personal medication reminders that specify when and how (in terms of dosage) you should take your anticoagulant drugs. You can log in your data by scanning the barcode of your medication package or using the app’s comprehensive built-in database. MyTherapy transforms your treatment plan into a simple daily to-do-list. The aim is to tick off reminders each day. These reminders include taking medication and engaging in health activities, such as simple leg exercises to get your blood flowing in your deep veins. Moreover, MyTherapy comes with a health diary, which allows you to track your diet, overall well-being, and any symptoms or medication side-effects. This may be particularly necessary if you are taking warfarin, as its efficacy is sensitive to the correct dose in your system, the vitamins in your diet, and any other medications you may be taking. This health diary can be printed out and discussed with your doctor, who can use it to adjust your treatment plan for DVT.
MyTherapy is designed by a team of dedicated professionals in Europe and is constantly being improved and monitored through user-feedback. The app is therefore simple to understand, easy to use, and can be fine-tuned to meet personal needs.
Pulmonary Embolisms: A Serious Complication of DVT
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a health condition where a blood clot (thrombus) forms in a deep vein of the body. Often the deep leg vein, which runs through the muscles of the calf and thigh, is affected. The blood clot – a solid, gelatinous clump of blood – can cause pain and swelling and can lead to serious complications such as a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolisms occur when the blood clot breaks loose from a deep vein and travels to the lungs where it blocks the flow of blood. If DVT is left untreated, about 10% of people will develop pulmonary embolisms. Another complication that can arise from DVT is postphlebitic (or postthrombotic) syndrome where damage to the veins from the blood clot reduces blood flow in the affected areas. There are several symptoms of DVT, including:
- Swelling in the foot, ankle, or leg
- Pain and aches in the affected area that can feel like cramping
- Tenderness, warm, and reddened skin in the area of the blood clot
DVT can affect one or both legs. However, the symptoms only become apparent in about half of the people who have DVT. In many cases, people may not be aware that they have DVT until they undergo emergency treatment for a pulmonary embolism. The warning signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you cough or breathe
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid pulse
If your doctor suspects DVT based on your medical history and symptoms, he or she will carry out physical examinations and various diagnostic tests. Some of these diagnostic tests include:
- The use of a Doppler ultrasound scan to show where blood flow is restricted (this can indicate the presence of a blood clot).
- A D-dimer blood test can check for the presence of blood clots via measuring the amount of D-dimer (which is part of a protein) in the blood.
- Taking a venogram to show how the blood is flowing through the veins. A venogram is a special type of X-ray where liquid dye is injected into the veins and can be detected on an X-ray.
How to Prevent DVT
In the UK, deep vein thrombosis affects approximately one in every 1000 people. There are several risk factors that are associated with DVT, including:
- Being over the age of 60
- Having a personal or family history of DVT or pulmonary embolisms
- Long stretches of inactivity, for instance after an operation or a long journey
- Damage of the blood vessels
- Having medical conditions or treatment that cause the blood to clot, for example cancer (and associated chemotherapy, radiotherapy), heart and lung disease, Hughes syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease
- Being pregnant
- Being overweight or obese
- Taking birth control pills or undergoing hormone replacement treatment
- Being overweight
Although this list of risk factors is long, there are several precautions that can be taken to prevent DVT. For example, if you going to be inactive for a long period of time (long plane or car journeys, being confined to a bed), then it is advisable to wear compression socks, stay hydrated, and perform simple leg exercises. Apart from this, eating healthily, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight reduce the chances of the development of DVT.
Successful Treatment of DVT with Anticoagulants
DVT can be treated with special medications called anticoagulants. Anticoagulants are often referred to as ‘blood thinners’. Despite this name, they do not actually thin the blood. Instead, the drugs work by altering a protein in the blood that is normally responsible for blood clotting. Anticoagulants prevent blood clots from forming or getting bigger and they also stop blood clots from being dislodged and travelling through the blood stream. Anticoagulants can have various side effects (which can be controlled) and should only be taken if prescribed and monitored by your doctor. Common anticoagulants include:
- Heparin. This drug is available in two forms: standard (unfractioned) heparin and low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). If you take unfractioned heparin, you will need to be carefully monitored and do regular blood tests.
- Warfarin (Coumadin, Marevan or Panwarfin) or Phenprocoumon (Liquamar) is taken as a tablet. You will need to be monitored by a doctor and do regular blood tests if you are taking this drug. This ensures that you have the right dose in your system and that there are no drug or vitamin interactions.
- Apixaban (Eliquis) or rivaroxaban (Xarelto). These newer types of anticoagulants are known as directly acting oral anticoagulants (DOAC) and they prevent the formation of blood clots by inhibiting a factor called Xa and restricting the formation of an enzyme called thrombin. They work just as well as warfarin and do not require constant monitoring or blood tests.
If medication is not working well, surgery may be necessary. For instance, filters may be inserted into your large abdominal vein (the vena cava), which will then stop blood clots entering the lung and causing pulmonary embolisms.
Let MyTherapy Take Care of Your Health Needs
Adhering to a treatment plan is not easy in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For this reason, smartpatient designed MyTherapy to give those with DVT peace of mind about their health. MyTherapy can help you manage your DVT and reduce the risks of developing life-threatening complications. The app’s personalized reminders will help you adhere to your medication regimen and engage in healthy activities. Moreover, the app’s health diary can be used for drugs that require strict monitoring, such as warfarin. The diary can be printed out and discussed with your GP, who can use it to adjust the treatment plan to meet your needs. With its user-friendly design and simple-to-use features, MyTherapy can be a valuable and useful tool for anyone, of any age, living with deep vein thrombosis.