AE stockings are commonly used as a thrombolprophylaxis in secondary care settings. These may be prescribed after a patients’ risk of VTE has been assessed.
Patients are advised to wear them 24 hours daily from the time they are administered to the time the patient is no longer considered to be at an increased risk of developing VTE. AES may be prescribed in conjunction with pharmacological thromboprophylaxis for added protection in those assessed to be at greater risk.
Unless contraindicated, surgical patients are generally prescribed pharmacological thromboprophylaxis as well as mechanical thromboprophylaxis (AES or intermittent pneumatic compression – IPC).
CVA patient generally are not prescribed AES because they have not been shown to be effective in such patients and can increase the risk of skin breakdown.
Other patients to avoid AES are those with peripheral neuropathy or peripheral arterial disease, or friable skin.
AES need to be fitted correctly and the right size is essential. They work by exerting graduated circumferential pressure onto the legs which supports the veins and therefore improves venous return, which decreases venous stasis. They also decrease venous dilation and therefore help to prevent activation of clotting factors.