Decreasing Your Risk of Blood Clots
Blood clots can cause serious damage to your health. If a blood clot cuts off circulation to a person’s brain, they can suffer from a stroke. A blood clot that interferes with blood flow to the heart, meanwhile, can cause a heart attack. In cases of deep-vein thrombosis, blood clots can form deep in the legs and then travel to the lungs.
Who’s at Risk
Clots can form for a variety of reasons. In some cases, a head injury may cause a person to develop one in their brain. However, they are frequently associated with people sitting or laying down in one position for a long period of time. Risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 65
- Having a family history of the condition
- Being immobile due to surgery
- Suffering from a medical condition that limits mobility
- Being a smoker
- Being obese
The good news is that there are a number of preventative steps you can take to decrease your chance of developing blood clots. There are some very simple things you can do, such as wearing loose clothing and socks, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy weight. Since smoking decreases circulation, quitting can help reduce your risk. In order to increase blood flow, those at risk of deep-vein thrombosis can raise their legs six inches above the heart for 15 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Wear Compression Stockings
Doctors often recommend that people who are at risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis wear compression stockings. These stockings offer graduated compression of the legs in order to enhance circulation and alleviate swollen veins. They come in below-knee and above-knee styles. Most pharmacies and medical supply stores keep them in stock, and they’re relatively inexpensive.
One of the best ways to prevent blood clots is to stay active. Engaging in regular physical activity will boost your circulation and decrease the risk of blood pooling one area. If have a medical condition that makes it difficult to engage in heavy exercise, try taking short walks. People who are unable to walk can try to do simple exercises while sitting in a chair. Leg raises, ankle circles, and shoulder rolls can help increase your blood flow.
If you’re going to be on a plane or bus for a long period of time, get up to use the restroom or stretch your legs every few hours. When taking extended car trips, schedule in breaks so that you can get out and walk around. People who work behind a desk all day can do stretches while sitting.
Medications for Blot Clots
There are a number of anticoagulant medications a doctor can prescribe to help prevent blood clots from developing while also shrinking existing ones. Anticoagulants are blood thinners, so they can cause bleeding as a side effect.
Learn the Warning Signs
If you’re at risk for blood clots, it’s important to learn the condition’s warning signs, so you know when to seek medical attention. When blood flow becomes in the legs becomes blocked, a person can experience swelling, pain, or discoloration. Additional symptoms include difficulty breathing, feelings of fatigue, and an increased heart rate.