Proactive Strategies to Lower Blood Clot Risks
March is DVT Awareness Month
According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, blood clots affect up to 900,000 Americans each year, with complications killing one person every six minutes in the United States. However, fewer than six percent of Americans know what a blood clot is or how it can be prevented. In previous blogs, we’ve talked about risk factors and treatment for deep vein blood thrombosis (DVT), a specific type of blood clot that can develop in the veins deep inside the body, typically in the legs, and block blood flow.
The following are proactive strategies to lower blood clot risks:
Movement Is Critical
Your heart alone can’t do all the work of circulating blood throughout the body, especially when it comes to your extremities. It’s the contraction of your leg muscles that helps to keep your blood moving up and out of your legs.
This means if you will be inactive for long periods—including long trips where you are seated, illnesses that leave you bedridden or even jobs where you sit or stand for long periods—it’s important to take breaks to get your legs moving.
Here are some movement strategies you can try:
- If you sit or stand for extended periods at home or work, take a few minutes every hour to walk around or do some simple leg exercises.
- When traveling by plane or train, get up regularly to walk the aisle or do some standing or seated leg exercises.
- On long car trips, schedule rest stops, so you can get out of the car and walk around.
- If you are sick in bed, try to get up periodically for a short walk or do some leg exercises while seated or reclining.
Please view these instructional videos demonstrating simple movements to activate your leg muscles in nearly any situation.
In addition to staying active, other strategies can help reduce your risk of developing a blood clot:
- Elevate your legs while sleeping or lying down for long periods
- Wear compression socks to keep blood from pooling in your legs and feet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke
- Stay hydrated; water is best
- Avoid crossing your legs
Know the Signs
While some factors can increase your risk of developing a blood clot, they can happen to anyone of any age. That’s why knowing the symptoms is essential.
Symptoms may include:
- Throbbing or cramping in a leg, usually in the calf or thigh
- Leg swelling
- Warmth, redness or discoloration around the site of pain
- Leg veins that are swollen, hard or painful
DVT is potentially life-threatening because a clot can block the blood supply back to your heart or break off and travel to your lungs. The presence of a clot can be revealed using ultrasound, a pain-free imaging technique. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor, call us for an evaluation or seek emergency care.