There are several treatment options available for treating PVD. One treatment that your doctor may suggest to keep blood circulating after surgery is the use of compression stockings. These stockings slowly squeeze your legs, helping your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. Another treatment that your doctor may suggest to help improve blood flow is the use of pneumatic compression cuffs. These cuffs (thigh-high or calf-high) automatically inflate with air and deflate every few minutes to massage and squeeze the veins in your legs.
Your doctor may also suggest that you make changes that can reduce your risk of developing pulmonary embolism, including moving around as much as possible and elevating your legs at night. Medications and in serious cases, surgery, may be necessary to manage your PVD.
Blood thinners, such as Heparin, are prescribed to prevent new clots from forming while your body works to break up the existing clots. These medications can work quickly and are often taken for several days with an oral anticoagulant, such as warfarin. In addition, clot dissolvers, such as Streptokinase, are prescribed to quickly dissolve the existing clots. Because these medications can cause sudden and severe bleeding, they usually are reserved for life-threatening situations.
Procedures, Devices & Surgery
The goal for treating PVD is to reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms. For some patients, surgical intervention is necessary to achieve that goal. Examples of surgical therapies include:
- Clot removal: If you have a very large, life-threatening clot in your peripheral veins, your doctor may suggest removing it with a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) that is threaded through your blood vessels.
- Vein filter: When you can’t take anticoagulant drugs, or when they aren’t working fast enough, a filter may be placed in your body’s main vein (inferior vena cava) to prevent clots from being carried to the lungs. These filters can be removed once they are no longer needed.