Eleven Tips to reduce your risk of DVT

The root cause of a Pulmonary Embolism (sometimes called a Lung Clot) is a blood clot in the artery of an extremity, most often the leg. When the clot is in the leg, it’s called Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT. If the clot breaks free and travels through your circulatory system, it can block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the lungs, which causes the Pulmonary Embolism, creating an emergency medical situation. Ideally, you want to reduce the risk of Pulmonary Embolism by reducing your risk of DVT, before the clot breaks free.

Below are ten tips to help you reduce the risk of DVT, or if you have already had a DVT, reduce the risk of another in the future. Start by talking to your doctor about your risk, and how these tips can help.

number 1

Fly Wisely

Long flights can lead to poor circulation. Stay active in the air – get up for a brief walk every hour or so, change your sitting position often, and avoid crossing your legs to keep the blood flowing in a healthy way.

number 2

Compression Stockings

When you talk to your doctor about DVT, he or she may recommend compression stockings, a special tool to help prevent clots. Compression stockings put added pressure on your legs and feet to improve circulation. They come in different sizes and levels of compression, so make sure you’re properly fitted. Your doctor can help find the right stockings for your legs.

number 3

Pump it up

If you’re sitting for long periods (travel, desk work, etc.) pump your feet to boost circulation. Start with both feet flat on the floor, and then lift your toes in the air for three seconds while keeping heels on the ground. Then switch: keep toes grounded, and lift your heels for three seconds. An easy start is five sets of each, once for every hour you are seated.

number 4

Keep Moving

Regular activity is one of the best ways to prevent DVT. Exercise helps keep you at a healthy weight, boosts your circulation, improves lung function and strengthens your muscles, all of which help lower your risk. Check with your doctor about starting an exercise program that’s right for you, and when you start, go slowly, and stick with it!

number 5

Take a Break

If you’re seated all day at a desk, set reminders or even alarms to get up and move around. Take a quick walk around your work area, or outside, if possible. If walking isn’t an option, schedule breaks to stand and stretch your arms, legs and feet to help keep your blood flowing.

woman stretching at computer
number 6

Be a Smart Traveler

If you’re taking a long trip, by plane, train or automobile, dress for success. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing that keeps you comfortable. Drink plenty of water along the way (not soda, alcohol or caffeine), and ask your doctor before you go if you need to plan for your medication during your trip.

number 7

Stop Smoking

There is no wrong time to stop smoking, and it is never too late to stop. Smoking restricts blood flow, and increases the risk of clots. Talk to your doctor about the best way for you to quit, and even if you fail the first few times, never stop quitting.

number 8

Do the Twist

When you’re stuck in a waiting room, or at the movies, or anywhere where you can’t get up and move about, do this simple twist. Lift your feet off the floor, and circle them to the right for fifteen seconds. Then reverse.

number 9

Reduce Drug Side Effects

If you’ve already had a DVT, you may be on blood thinner medication. This can put you at risk of bleeding from cuts or injuries that were no big deal in the past. Reduce your risk – switch to an electric razor instead of a blade, and be careful with knives, nail clippers and scissors. Change to waxed dental floss and a soft-bristled toothbrush.

number 10

Don’t Stress Out

Life after a DVT can be worrisome, so take care of your mental health, too. Remember many people who have a DVT do not have another, especially if they follow a doctor’s recommendation, and make changes to improve circulation and overall health. Talk to your doctor about deep breathing, meditation or yoga to reduce your stress level.

number 11

Just Add Water

Hydration is important – drinking a healthy amount of water each day helps keep blood flowing quickly and vessels open. Don’t cheat and substitute soda, coffee, alcohol or juice; stick with plain, fresh water. Talk to your doctor about how much water you should drink each day, then use a special container or two to keep track of how much you drink.

glass of water