Each year, as many as 6 000 Norwegians develop a blood clot in the leg. Additional treatment with medication to dissolve blood clots may increase the likelihood of regaining normal function of the vein and prevent lasting damage.
Blood clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis -- DVT) occur commonly. In one-half of the cases, the blood clot will break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs -- which may be life-threatening. Current treatment stops the blood clot from moving, but does not prevent permanent damage to the vein. Many patients may suffer long-term swelling and pain in their legs.
Today, patients are normally treated with the blood-thinning medication warfarin and must wear support hose for two years. A project led by Dr Per Morten Sandset, a professor at Oslo University Hospital, and funded under the Research Programme on Clinical Research (KLINISKFORSKNING) at the Research Council will examine whether patients will benefit from additional treatment with drugs that dissolve blood clots (a treatment called thrombolysis).
Preliminary findings after the first six months of the clinical trial show that the veins tend to remain open more often among patients who receive thrombolysis in addition to conventional treatment. This indicates that the vein is functioning as it should and is draining blood from the leg. The researchers will follow up patients for five years to chart the long-term effects of the treatment.
"If we succeed in demonstrating that patients experience fewer chronic conditions or discomfort -- and few side effects -- it will be a major breakthrough. We can then recommend that thrombolysis be put into use internationally for treatment of DVT in the leg," asserts Dr Sandset.
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