How long you need anticoagulants depends on the balance of risks between having a blood clot and bleeding; these will differ for each individual. Your specialist will decide the length of time anticoagulants are needed in your particular case. This is just a guide.
To help you remember, I have added song titles from the performers at the Coronation Concert. I have even included links to the songs on YouTube!
If you go into hospital for surgery or a medical problem that leaves you stuck in bed for a few days, you may need a short course of anticoagulants. This is especially true if you have had a blood clot before. Your doctor will assess your need for anticoagulants, but discussing it with the doctor yourself is a good idea. Short-term treatment is usually given as injections into the skin once a day and continued until you are mobile. Sometimes, you may need to continue the treatment after getting home.
For a while
Song – Time to Say Goodbye – Andre Bocelli
If you have a DVT or PE and it is your first event, you will probably only need treatment for a while. For a blood clot that comes on after surgery or trauma, the treatment length depends on the site of the clot; a small clot in the veins below the knee needs only six weeks of treatment, whereas a larger clot or a PE may need treatment up to 6 months.
Song – All Night Long – Lionel Ritchie
For some conditions, the need for long-term anticoagulants is well established. For example, if you have a mechanical heart valve or atrial fibrillation, treatment should be continued indefinitely to prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of a stroke. The decision to continue long-term treatment if you have had more than one DVT or PE can be much more challenging. If you have had recurrent blood clots, your doctor will need to weigh up the risk of another clot if you stop anticoagulants against the risk of bleeding if you stay on anticoagulants. Many factors affect this decision, including your age, the site of the clot, the cause of the clot, the time between events and whether you are male or female.