The Silent Killer In Your Veins

    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.
    • Raise the bottom of your bed 4 to 6 inches with blocks or books.
    • Take all medicines the doctor prescribes you.

    Risk Factors

    Estimated risk for developing a DVT (blood clot in the leg) or PE (blood clot in the lung):

    Blood Clots: High Risk

    • Hospital stay
    • Major surgery, such as abdominal/pelvic surgery
    • Knee or hip replacement
    • Major trauma: automobile accident or fall
    • Nursing home living
    • Leg paralysis

    Blood Slows: Moderate Risk

    • Older than age 65
    • Trips over 4 hours by plane, car, train, or bus
    • Active cancer/chemotherapy
    • Bone fracture or cast
    • Birth control pills, patch, or ring
    • Hormone replacement therapy
    • Pregnancy or recently gave birth
    • Prior blood clot or family history of clot
    • Heart failure
    • Bed rest over 3 days
    • Obesity
    • Genetic/hereditary or acquired blood clotting disorder

    Blood Flows: Average Risk

    • Active
    • Younger than age 40
    • No history of blood clots in immediate family
    • No conditions or illnesses that heighten clotting risk

    Practical Steps to Lower Your Risk for a Blood Clot

    • Ask your doctor about need for “blood thinners” or compression stockings to prevent clots, whenever you are admitted to the hospital
    • Lose weight, if you are overweight
    • Stay active
    • Exercise regularly; walking is fine
    • Avoid long periods of staying still
    • Get up and move around at least every hour whenever you travel on a plane, train, or bus, particularly if the trip is longer than 4 hours
    • Point and flex your toes and make circles with your feet if you cannot move around while sitting for prolonged periods to get your blood circulating
    • Stop at least every two hours when you drive, and get out and move around
    • Drink a lot of water and wear loose fitted clothing when you travel
    • Talk to your doctor about your risk of clotting whenever you take hormones, whether for birth control or replacement therapy, or during and right after any pregnancy
    • Follow any self-care measures to keep heart failure, diabetes, or any other health issues as stable as possible


    Visit the High Blood Pressure center for more articles.

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