What are blood clots? 

Know your risk, lower your risk

Have you ever heard the advice to stand up and stretch your legs during a long plane ride? In the world of virtual working, standing up and stretching from time to time might just strike you as a way to keep from getting stiff or growing restless. But what if it could save your life? That’s right – on a long plane or car ride, stretching your legs could prevent a fatal blood clot, especially if you are at risk. Read more about blood clots below and find out how you can lower your risk. 

Blood clots are common yet potentially dangerous gel-like clumps of blood that can have a range of effects on the body

Clotting is usually a helpful mechanism, like when you cut yourself and need your blood to clot so a scab can form. But sometimes, clotting can get out of control and cause damage. Clots might form at the wrong place, or travel to the wrong place. This can wreak havoc on the vascular system and might lead to serious disability – or even death.

What are venous thromboembolisms?

Venous thromboembolisms are clots that form in the veins.

What is a blood clot?

Deep Vein Thrombosis

The first kind of venous thromboembolism is called a Deep Vein Thrombosis, and forms in the veins close to the bone of the lower leg.

What is a blood clot?

Pulmonary Embolism

If a DVT travels to the lungs, it becomes a pulmonary embolism – a deadly condition that can cause death within just an hour.

Both Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolisms have similar causes and risk factors, which means that you can lower your risk for both by adopting certain lifestyle changes.

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

One of the most important things to consider is that it’s hard to understand your risk for clots without talking to your health care provider. They will be able to tell you about your risk in detail, since they know what pre-existing conditions you have, what medications you’re taking, and what your surgical history looks like. Screening is important, and early detection of a clotting risk could save your life. Be sure to talk to your provider regularly about your risk for blood clots, especially if you’re over the age of 50.  

How to Reduce Your Risk for Blood Clots

There are things you can do today to help reduce your risk for blood clots. And it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new routine.  

  • Stay active. Walking helps with blood circulation and weight loss. 
  • Talk with a health care provider about a program or medications to help quit smoking. 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight and eat a healthy diet. 
  • Discuss risks of birth control or hormone replacement therapy with your health care provider. 
  • If you are hospitalized for any medical condition or undergo a surgery, ask your health care provider what care you’re getting to decrease your risks for DVTs and PEs. 
  • Find out if there is any history of VTE or abnormal blood clotting in your family. If so, discuss any tests or steps you should take with your health care provider. 
  • If you take long airline or auto trips, get up and walk every hour or so, and flex your foot and raise on your toes 10 to 15 times each hour to encourage blood flow in your calves.

Note: this blogpost was developed through a generous grant from Inari Medical.