No doubt about it, the thought of developing a blood clot is scary. However, preventing blood clots is essential for everyone, whether you’re healthy or dealing with some type of medical condition, post-surgical recovery, rehabilitation, or aging processes.
Blood clots are caused by the pooling of blood in a blood vessel, often the veins. When this occurs, blood clotting factors surge to the area to resolve the issue, forming a clot that attempts to heal the cause of the pooling. In other cases, an injury to the blood vessel itself triggers blood clotting processes in the body, which is natural.
Most blood clots are caused by immobility and/or sluggish blood flow caused by any number of different scenarios: bed rest, a sedentary lifestyle, inactivity for long periods of time, and contributing medical conditions such as cardiovascular issues or diabetes.
Taking steps to prevent blood clots
Take a number of proactive steps to prevent blood clots at any age. If you feel you’re at risk for blood clot development, consult with your physician. Don’t attempt to self-diagnose. That being said, be aware of your body. Changing a few lifestyle habits can decrease your risk of developing a blood clot. For example:
- Hydrate! Drinking adequate amounts of water on a daily basis keeps the blood from growing thick or sluggish inside blood vessel walls and improves circulation.
- Exercise keeps the blood pumping and circulating. When you sit, stand, or lie down for long periods of time, blood has a tendency to pool in the lower extremities. Every hour or two, get up and move around. If you can’t, contracting and relaxing ankle, calf, and thigh muscles while you’re seated can also help.
- Quit smoking. Smoking contributes to high blood pressure, which can lead to damaged blood vessel walls. Any damage to a blood vessel wall triggers blood clotting factors in the body.
- Watch your weight. Obesity and added pressure on blood vessels. Resulting inactivity can increase a person’s risk for blood clot development.
- If you’re taking birth control pills, consult with your physician regarding the risks of blood clot development.
- For some, genetic history or predisposition to blood clotting can increase the risk of issues.
Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. Some of those include:
- A warm sensation in the affected area
- Pain, such as throbbing, cramping, tingling, or numbness in a localized area or the entire leg
- Redness or discolored skin in the localized area or affecting the entire limb
- Experiencing sudden and unexplained shortness of breath is a warning sign of a dangerous condition known as a pulmonary embolism (PE), which is caused by a blood clot that has broken loose and traveled through the blood vessels to the long. Additional symptoms of a PE include accelerated heart rate and coughing up blood.
One of the best ways to prevent blood clots is to be proactive. Discuss concerns of blood clot development with your physician before any surgical procedure or during rehabilitation.