10 Simple Ways to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis
I never imagined I would be writing a blog post about deep vein thrombosis (DVT), but as a recent sufferer, I wanted to let others know how to prevent them! Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, usually in a leg. The common symptoms of a DVT are pain and swelling in the affected area, skin redness, and warmth and tenderness over the vein.
I developed the above systems while recovering from a recent ankle surgery. Just a few days after my surgery on October 7, I was able to stiffly walk on my foot, but I wasn’t as active as normal. Things were continuing to progress until the third week of recovery when I started experiencing lower leg pain, swelling, and tenderness. It was at this time that I decided I needed to see my surgeon for an examination of my leg. To confirm a DVT, an ultrasound is necessary. I was sent for an ultrasound and later a CT scan of my lungs. The ultrasound showed two clots in my lower left leg and the CT scan showed two small clots in my right lung. I was immediately hospitalized with a Heparin IV drip. Three days later, I was sent home with the oral medication called Xarelto. I will continue to take this medication for three months and follow-up with my primary doctor as needed.
My situation was very lucky. One of the clots in my leg was extremely large! If I hadn’t seen the doctor that morning, things could have been tragic. Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition because blood clots in veins can break loose, travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lungs. This is known as pulmonary embolism. Although I also had pulmonary embolism, the clots were small and they were caught before causing any permanent damage.
Deep vein thrombosis can happen to anyone at any age. I’ve read stories about young healthy people developing these serious clots. Although this is true, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk.
10 Simple Ways to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis:
- Get regular exercise – Get active in some way on a regular basis. Keep those muscles strong and blood flowing.
- Maintain a healthy body weight – A healthy body weight is important to overall health. Extra fat around your belly can slow down the flow of the blood through the veins. It can also change the chemical makeup of your blood and lead to inflammation.
- Take frequent breaks on long road trips – Stop every 60-90 minutes to stretch your legs or take a short walk to get your blood flowing.
- Stay hydrated on a long flight and exercise your legs frequently – Walk the aisles and do toe lifts. Avoid caffeinated drinks (which dehydrate) instead drink plenty of water.
- Don’t be a couch potato – While binge watching television, it’s important to get up frequently. Stretch your legs and get your blood moving frequently, even if it’s just during episodes.
- Keep active when pregnant – During pregnancy, natural changes to the body reduce blood flow and blood clots are more likely. Keep moving as much as possible. Studies show that sleeping on your side is more beneficial also.
- Be sure to keep moving after surgery – Surgery may slow you down, but you must keep moving. Wiggle your toes, do toe lifts, and take short walks. If these aren’t possible, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!
- Get annual check-ups – Visit your doctor once a year. Get a physical exam, have your blood pressure checked, and discuss medications.
- Talk to your doctor about hormone therapy – Birth control and replacement therapy put women at a greater risk for blood clots. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors.
- Stop smoking – Smoking is one of the number one risk factors when it comes to blood clots. If you need help, talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting and/or find a support group.
If you have any questions for me, please comment below. Also, please share this post so that others are made aware. Thank you…Rachel