Preventing Blood Clots

Published: February 20, 2021

A blood clot can be very serious or even deadly. When a blood clot forms in a vein, often in your leg, it is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When a blood clot travels from a vein in your leg or other parts of the body to your lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism.

Who is at risk?

People who sit still or have to lie down for long periods are more likely to be at risk for a DVT. This includes:

  • People who travel often, especially on long flights or car/bus rides
  • People who are older than 40
  • Women who take birth control pills
  • People in the hospital for surgery or who are confined to their bed for more than two days
  • Women who are pregnant or have just had a baby
  • People who have had a stroke
  • People who are receiving treatment for cancer
  • People who’ve broken a leg or another bone
  • People who’ve had a blood clot in the past
  • People with a history of a clotting disorder

What are the signs and symptoms of a blood clot in either a vein or in the lung?

People who may have a DVT might feel or see:

  • Leg cramping or skin that is tender to a light touch
  • Swelling
  • Warm skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Pain near the vein
  • A vein that looks blue

People who may have a pulmonary embolism may:

  • Have a hard time breathing
  • Feel chest pains
  • Feel lightheaded
  • Feel their heart beating hard or fast
  • Cough up blood

How can I prevent blood clots?

  • During long flights or car rides
    • Get up and walk around once per hour
    • Flex your feet or squeeze your toes for 15 seconds every hour
    • Wear compression stockings
  • Take blood thinners prescribed by your doctor

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