Bellin Health Heart Blog

March is DVT awareness month


Learn the facts about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Almost anyone can get them. In most cases, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) develops in a person who has an inherited blood clotting disorder or other risk factor, and who experiences a triggering event. Are you at risk? Find out.....

Any of these items put you at a higher risk:

  • Blood disorders that make your blood thicker or more likely to clot
  •  Family history of blood disorders or previous DVT or PE
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Cancer and its treatment
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Birth control medication use or menopause
  • Smoking
  • Age of 50 years old or older
  • African Americans and Whites ethnicity

What to do if you are at risk:

  • Have regular checkups with your provider 
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Start moving and walking as soon as possible after surgery or illness
  • On long trips of sitting, be sure to exercise your lower leg muscles
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking 

If you have had DVT or PE before, you can help prevent future blood clots by following the above steps and:

  • Taking blood thinners as prescribed to prevent formation of blood clots
  • Wear compression stockings to help prevent blood from pooling and clotting in the lower legs
  • Have regular follow-up with your provider

Watch for signs or symptoms of bloot clots:

  • Swelling in one leg or along a vein in the leg
  • Pain or tenderness in one leg
  • Increased warmth in swollen or painful areas of leg 
  • Red or discolored skin in one leg
  • Unexplained shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood

Call your provider if you have any of the above symptoms
Tips for travelers:
Although the risk of developing a DVT while traveling is small, your risk increases if the travel time is longer than 4 hours, or if you have other risk factors.
During long trips, it may help to:

  • Frequently walk up and down the aisles of the bus, train, or airplane. If traveling by car, stop about every hour and walk around.
  • Move your legs and flex and stretch your feet often while you’re sitting by:
    • Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
    • Raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor
    • Tightening and releasing your leg muscles
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Discuss wearing compression stockings during travel or taking a blood-thinner before traveling, with your provider

Information from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. 

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