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Preventing Blood Clots
Blood clots (also called deep vein thrombosis [throm-BO-sis]) most often occur in people who can’t move around well or who have had recent surgery or an injury. Blood clots are serious. It is important to know the signs and get treated right away.
Causes of Blood Clots
Blood clots can form if you don’t move around a lot. You may also get a blood clot if you:
- Have had recent surgery.
- Are 65 or older.
- Take hormones, especially for birth control. (Ask your doctor about this).
- Have had cancer or are being treated for it.
- Have broken a bone (hip, pelvis, or leg).
- Have a bad bump or bruise.
- Are obese.
- Are confined to bed or a chair much of the time.
- Have had a stroke or are paralyzed.
- Have a special port the doctor put in your body to give you medicine.
- Have varicose (VAR-e-kos) or bad veins.
- Have heart trouble.
Blood clots that form in the veins in your legs, arms, and groin can break loose and move to other parts of your body, including your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs is called a pulmonary embolism (POOL-mo-nar-e EM-bo-liz-em). If this happens, your life can be in danger. Go to the emergency room or call 911.
Symptoms of a Blood Clot
You may have a blood clot if you see or feel:
- New swelling in your arm or leg.
- Skin redness.
- Soreness or pain in your arm or leg.
- A warm spot on your leg.
Preventing Blood Clots
Now that you know the causes and symptoms of a blood clot, it’s critical to understand how to prevent them. It could literally save your life. Below are nine (9) ways to prevent life threatening blood clots. You can help prevent blood clots if you:
- Wear loose-fitting clothes, socks, or stockings.
- Raise your legs 6 inches above your heart from time to time.
- Wear special stockings (called compression stockings) if your doctor prescribes them.
- Do exercises your doctor gives you.
- Change your position often, especially during a long trip.
- Do not stand or sit for more than 1 hour at a time.
- Eat less salt.
- Try not to bump or hurt your legs and try not to cross them.
- Do not use pillows under your knees.
Internet Citation: Your Guide to Preventing and Treating Blood Clots. September 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/prevention/disease/bloodclots.html