This Is What You Can Do To Prevent Blood Clots

The thought of developing a blood clot certainly sounds scary, but fortunately, there are a number of things that are within our control when it comes to prevention. When it comes to our health, knowledge is key. We can learn how to decrease our risk for various health conditions — blood clots included.

Our blood's natural ability to clot is not inherently bad. This clumping is an important part of the healing process of cuts and other open wounds in order to stop the bleeding (via Mayo Clinic). In other words, clotting is another way our body works to protect us. In some cases, however, this clumping can occur within our veins, cutting off necessary blood flow to our essential organs, such as the brain and lungs in the most severe of cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), blood clots commonly form in the arms and legs in a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When a blood clot is located in the lungs, it's considered a pulmonary embolism (PE). You'll want to know what to look for when it comes to potential signs of blood clots in order to seek immediate medical care. In the case of DVT, symptoms can include swelling of the arms or legs, tenderness, pain, redness, and skin that is warm in temperature. Signs of a PE include an accelerated or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, coughing up blood, or difficulty breathing.

Who is at risk for developing blood clots?

The CDC states that risk factors for blood clots include pregnancy, hospitalizations, and certain types of cancers and their treatments. In addition, blood clots can form as a result of injury or long periods of inactivity.

So what can we do to minimize our risk? When it comes to inactivity, the CDC stresses the importance of moving frequently, if you are able. This is particularly important for those who may undergo long flights, work for hours seated in front of a computer, or for those recovering from a period of bed rest. Experts advise getting up and moving around after every hour or two spent seated. Performing leg stretches while you are sitting down can also help prevent blood clots.

Experts at Alberta Health also stress that smoking, as well as hormones, can influence the development of blood clots. For this reason, consider consulting with a doctor who can work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you stop smoking. In addition, those taking hormonal forms of birth control containing estrogen may also want to consult with their doctor, as these kinds of medications can increase the risk for blood clots. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications or advise the use of compression stockings to further protect against the development of blood clots.