An Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter has the potential to prevent strokes by allowing blood to flow through but catching any blood clots. IVC filters are used primarily for patients with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) who cannot tolerate the standard anticoagulant treatment such as warfarin and other blood thinners.
An IVC filter is a small metal device that is inserted into its namesake vein, the inferior vena cava. This large vein collects blood from your lower body and delivers it to your heart. IVC filters are used to prevent blood clots (thrombosis) from traveling to your lungs, heart, and brain.
Are IVC Filters Typically Used to Prevent Strokes
Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA). Strokes occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Strokes can also happen when a blood vessel bursts or ruptures.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) causes blood clots to form in the lower body, usually in a deep leg vein. If a blood clot travels into your lungs, it causes a pulmonary embolism (PE), a life-threatening condition. A DVT blood clot can also travel into the heart, causing a heart attack. An IVC filter can prevent pulmonary embolisms and strokes. Yet IVC filters are not typically used for stroke prevention because of their inherent risk.
Risks and Complications of IVC Filters
Healthcare providers limit the use of IVC filters for DVT and PE patients who cannot tolerate blood thinners. This is because IVC filters can break off and migrate, leading to serious complications and even death.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning about IVC filters in 2010. The FDA received more than 900 reports of adverse complications from IVC filters, including:
- Device breaking inside the body
- Device migrating (moving)
- Improper placement
- Perforated organs
- Internal bleeding
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Blood clots
- Pulmonary embolisms
- Complications when retrieving the device
If you or a family member experienced similar complications from an IVC filter, you could be entitled to compensation for damages such as medical expenses and disability.
FDA Calls for Limited Use of IVC Filters
IVC filters look like tiny metal cages or umbrellas. Doctors insert them into the vein until the danger of a blood clot has passed or the patient can begin taking blood thinners. Because IVC filters carry risk, they should be used sparingly and on a temporary basis. An IVC filter should be removed within 60 days to prevent complications.
The FDA recommends temporary IVC filters only in the following cases:
- Prevent pulmonary thromboembolism when blood thinners (anticoagulant therapy) are not recommended.
- Preventative measure when anticoagulant therapy for PE and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is unsuccessful.
- Emergency treatment when conventional measures fail after a massive pulmonary embolism.
IVC filters have the potential to prevent strokes, but the FDA and many doctors agree that they should be used only as a last resort.
Safe Methods to Prevent Stroke
Men and women of all ages can suffer a stroke. Getting an IVC filter to prevent a stroke is not recommended. The American Stroke Association offers these suggestions that help you prevent a stroke:
- Manage and control high blood pressure (hypertension), a leading cause of strokes.
- Do not smoke or vape nicotine because it increases your risk of stroke.
- Control your blood sugar to prevent or manage diabetes, a disease that often creates high blood pressure.
- Eat sensibly with five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day to lower your risk of stroke.
- Get moving with a regular exercise routine including aerobic and weight training.
- Keep cholesterol levels low through diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.
- Stay alert to abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), which can cause blood to pool and clot.
People with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Sickle Cell Anemia are inherently more at risk for stroke. Even with these medical issues, however, you can help prevent stroke through healthy eating, regular exercise, taking medicine your doctor prescribes, and getting regular physicals.
An IVC Filter Might Prevent a Stroke but These Medical Devices Are Dangerous
The best treatment for DVT and PE is blood thinners that minimize the risk of blood clots traveling to the lungs, heart, and brain. If you or someone you love has an IVC filter and has experienced medical complications , you could be entitled to compensation. We invite you to call our mass tort product liability law firm for more information. Please call Tosi & Rose at 888-311-8292.