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Stop The Clot: What You Can Do to Prevent Blood Clots

Stop The Clot: What You Can Do to Prevent Blood Clots

A blood clot is formed in your body when blood cells come together into a semi-solid form to protect you from bleeding. Blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), are created during small injuries, like cutting yourself while shaving, and during major injuries and surgeries. While blood clots form to protect your body, they can also be life-threatening, especially when they form after immobility or for other medical reasons.  

The chance of developing life-threatening blood clots significantly increases after hospitalization. Roughly 1 out of 10 hospital deaths are related to blood clots in the lungs. Blood clots are a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths in the United States. About half of these blood clots occur during or within 3 months of a hospital stay or surgery.  

Your risk factor for blood clots increases during hospitalization after: 

  •  physical trauma or injury to the veins caused by broken bones or muscle injuries. 
  • major surgeries to the pelvis, abdomen, hip or knee. 
  • confined immobility to a bed or wheelchair. 

Other risk factors include: 

  • Immobility during extensive travel 
  • Old age 
  • Overweight/obesity 
  • Family history of VTE 
  • During or just after pregnancy or C-Section delivery 
  • Recent or recurrent cancer or chemotherapy 
  • Estrogen-based medicine such as hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy 
  • Previous blood clots 
  • Heart failure or heart attack 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 

It is particularly important to take measures to prevent blood clots during a hospital stay or while recovering from surgery. With your doctor’s permission, getting out of bed to move and walk several times a day is one way to prevent blood clots from forming. During a hospital stay, nursing staff may have you wear sequential compression devices (SCDs) around your legs to help prevent blood clots. While walking and SCDs can be an uncomfortable hassle, especially after surgery, these preventative measures are necessary to ensure that blood clots do not become life-threatening. Your doctor may also prescribe blood-thinning medications during your hospital stay.  

Being mindful of blood clots is important in your everyday life, as well. It’s important to know if you have a family history of blood clots and to tell your doctor that information. Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall wellness and can help reduce your risk of blood clots. Smoking can also increase your risk of developing blood clots and has a negative effect on your overall wellness. Taking steps to stop smoking/vaping can help decrease your risk of blood clots. During travel by plane, train or car or long periods of sitting at a desk, it is important to stand up, walk around and stretch your legs every two to three hours.  

Click here to view our guide on reducing your risk for blood clots.  

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