How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

How to reduce blood clot risk during 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 dealth in the United States.

  • About half of all blood clots occur during or within 3 months of a hospital stay or surgery
  • Many of these blood clots can be safely prevented
  • Nearly half of all hospital patients do not receive proper prevention measures

Know Your Risk: The Link Between Hospitalization and Blood Clots

Hospitalization, particularly involving physical trauma, surgery, or prolonged immobility, increases the risk for blood clots.

  • Physical Trauma: Injury to a vein that may be caused by a broken bone, muscle injury, or other serious injury to the body.
  • Surgery: Major surgery, particularly of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, or knee.
  • Immobility: Confined to a bed or wheelchair for long periods of time due to a hospital stay, injury, or illness.

Understaning Blood Clots

A blood clot in one of the large veins, usually in a person’s leg or arm, is called a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. When a DVT forms, it can partially or completely block the flow of blood through the vein.

If a DVT is not treated, it can move or break off and travel to the lungs.

A blood clot in the lungs is called a pulmonary embolism or PE. This requires immediate medical attention since it can cause death.

Going to the Hospital? Get Better. Don’t Get a Blood Clot. Have a Prevention Plan.

Before You Enter the Hospital

  • Discuss your potential risk factors and family health history with your doctor.
  • Ask if you will need prevention measures for blood clots while in the hospital.
  • Make sure that all of your doctors know your blood clot risks and ask for a prevention plan.

Before your Leave the Hospital

  • Ask your doctor how to prevent blood clots when you are at home.
  • Discuss the signs and symptoms of blood clots.
  • Make sure you know what to do if you experience the signs or symptoms of a blood clot.

When You Return Home

  • Follow instructions and take medications as prescribed.
  • Move around, if confined to bed or a wheelchair, have someone help you move your arms and legs.
  • Notify your doctor if you experience signs or symptoms of blood clots.

If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms …

Blood Clots in Your Legs or Arms
Alert Your Doctor As Soon As Yo u Can

How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from a blood clot.

Blood clots are preventable, yet an estimated 900,000 Americans are affected each year, resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths. A blood clot in the deep vein (also known as a deep vein thrombosis [DVT]) typically occurs in the lower leg, thigh, pelvis, or arm. When a DVT is left untreated, a part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, causing a blockage called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE can be deadly by preventing blood from reaching the lungs.

Although anyone can be affected by a blood clot, certain risk factors, such as hospitalization, pregnancy, cancer, and some types of cancer treatments, can increase a person’s chance of developing one. Other risk factors, such as limited movement due to extended travel or bed rest, a personal or family history of blood clots, or injury to a vein, can increase a person’s chance of developing a blood clot. Learn more about the risk factors.

What are the signs and symptoms?

How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

Knowing the signs and symptoms can help you get treatment at the earliest signs of a blood clot.

A DVT can occur without any symptoms, but the following are the most common signs and symptoms of a DVT:

  • Swelling of the affected limb
  • Pain or tenderness not caused by injury
  • Skin that is warm to the touch, red, or discolored

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, alert your doctor as soon as possible.

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a PE:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain that worsens with a deep breath or cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Faster-than-normal or irregular heartbeat

Seek medical treatment immediately when you experience any of these signs and symptoms.

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a blood clot so that you can alert your doctor or seek medical treatment immediately. If discovered early, a blood clot is treatable.

How can I prevent a blood clot?

  • Improve blood flow in your legs when sitting for long periods of time, following bed rest, or when traveling for more than 4 hours by moving your legs as much as possible and exercising your calf muscles.
    • Get up and walk around every 2–3 hours if you are able to and if space allows
    • Do seated leg stretches
      • Raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
      • Raise and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the floor
      • Tighten and release your leg muscles

      Colleen’s Story

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      “…Colleen had to keep stopping every 2 minutes because she was having coughing fits and difficulty breathing. She thought she might have bronchitis, so she went to see her doctor, who immediately referred her to the emergency department, where she had a chest CT scan. The scan showed that she had a saddle pulmonary embolism. This occurs when one or more blood clots straddle the junction where the main pulmonary artery, which supplies blood to the lungs, branches off into the right and left pulmonary arteries, causing right heart strain and, potentially, sudden death. Doctors call this the “dead zone” because most people do not survive this type of blood clot.”

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      9 Natural Ways To Reduce Risk of Blood Clots

      A blood clot is a gelatinous mass of coagulated blood used to repair damaged blood vessels such as the arteries, capillaries and veins. Blood clots typically form at the surface of the blood vessel thereby preventing excessive loss of blood. However, there are some instances where a clot forms inside the blood vessel.

      Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that occurs in the veins and lodges in the pulmonary artery that is the main blood vessel to the lungs. If the clot is large enough, it can impair blood flow to major body organs such resulting in death. Blood clots mainly present in the form redness, pain, swelling and heaviness in the affected area. Typically, they will form in the veins found in the arm, at the back of the leg and the pelvis.

      Am I at a risk?

      There are several risk factors and illnesses that can result in the formation of blood clots inside the blood vessels. Among they include:

      • Certain heart conditions such as congestive cardiac failure.

      • Inherited blood clotting disorders

      The relationship between cancer and formation Blood Clots

      Several types of cancer increase production of platelets and other clotting factors in the blood of cancer patients. The increased clotting factors and blood platelets double the risk of blood clotting. Cancer patients also undergo chemotherapy meant to treat or reduce the severity of the disease. When the cancer cells are killed, they release substances that may cause coagulation of blood inside the vessels. Some chemotherapy drugs are also likely to cause blood clotting than others.

      In most instances, chemotherapy treatments make cancer patients less active due to the demanding procedures and strict medications involved. With the reduced mobility, they are at a higher risk of developing blood clots than healthy individuals.

      What are the natural ways of reducing the risk of blood clots?

      Increase physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.

      One of the risk factors in blood clot formation is obesity. Exercising daily for at least 30 minutes can go a long way in reducing the risk blood clotting.

      Quit smoking

      – smoking cause damage to the inner lining of blood vessels. During the repair of the damaged blood vessels, the clot forms hampering blood flow. Chain smokers also have a difficulty in exercising which makes them inactive.

      Keep stress at bay

      – stress causes havoc to your life. Apart from making you age faster, it also compromises your immune system. Stress hormone also triggers production of free radicals that increase the risk of cancer.

      Increase consumption of foods rich in omega three fatty acids and vitamin E

      – these two food sources contain components that have blood thinning properties that help to reduce the risk of blood clotting.

      Limit alcohol consumption

      – excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of blood clotting. Limiting alcohol intake to one serving per day reduces the risk of occurrence.

      Increase the consumption of cancer-fighting diet

      – consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, mushrooms, spices and legumes reduces the risk of blood clotting. These foods contain vital phytonutrients that are essential in cancer fighting.

      Increase consumption of vitamin K

      – individuals under blood thinning medications should increase consumption of vitamin K as it interacts with them. Consumption of kales, broccoli, lettuce, turnip greens, mustard greens, soybeans and canola increases levels of vitamin K in the body.

      Increase water intake

      – water is an essential component of the blood. Consumption of enough amounts of water keeps your body hydrated hence resulting to smooth flow of blood. This washes away any clots and plaques that may have formed.

      Garlic and turmeric spices are endowed with anti-inflammatory substances

      . Inflammation is a major cause of arteriosclerosis.

      The risk of formation of blood clotting can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle change. This will involve intake of a healthy diet, exercising regularly and seeing a doctor when any of the symptoms manifests.

      Blood clots are a serious medical condition. It is important to know the signs and get treated right away. This guide describes ways to prevent and treat blood clots; symptoms; and medication side effects as well as when to go to the emergency room.

      This guide was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) under grant No. U18 HS015898-01.

      Contents

      Introduction

      Blood clots (also called deep vein thrombosis [throm-BO-sis]) most often occur in people who can’t move around well or who have had recent surgery or an injury. Blood clots are serious. It is important to know the signs and get treated right away. This guide tells about ways to prevent and treat blood clots. Figure 1 provides an illustration of a blood clot in the leg.

      Reminders:

      Call your doctor* if you have questions.
      Your doctor’s phone number is: _________________________________________

      *In this guide, the term “doctor” is used. It can mean doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, or other heath care professional.

      Causes of Blood Clots

      Blood clots can form if you don’t move around a lot. You may also get a blood clot if you:

      • Have had recent surgery.
      • Are 65 or older.
      • Take hormones, especially for birth control. (Ask your doctor about this).
      • Have had cancer or are being treated for it.
      • Have broken a bone (hip, pelvis, or leg).
      • Have a bad bump or bruise.
      • Are obese.
      • Are confined to bed or a chair much of the time.
      • Have had a stroke or are paralyzed.
      • Have a special port the doctor put in your body to give you medicine.
      • Have varicose (VAR-e-kos) or bad veins.
      • Have heart trouble.
      • Have had a blood clot before.
      • Have a family member who has had a blood clot.
      • Have taken a long trip (more than an hour) in a car, airplane, bus, or train.

      Are you at risk?

      Symptoms of a Blood Clot

      You may have a blood clot if you see or feel:

      • New swelling in your arm or leg.
      • Skin redness.
      • Soreness or pain in your arm or leg.
      • A warm spot on your leg.

      Important!

      Blood clots can be dangerous. Blood clots that form in the veins in your legs, arms, and groin can break loose and move to other parts of your body, including your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs is called a pulmonary embolism (POOL-mo-nar-e EM-bo-liz-em). If this happens, your life can be in danger. Go to the emergency room or call 911.

      A blood clot may have gone to your lungs if you suddenly have:

      • A hard time breathing.
      • Chest pain.
      • A fast heartbeat.
      • Fainting spells.
      • A mild fever.
      • A cough, with or without blood.

      Preventing Blood Clots

      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.

      Stay active!

      Treatment for Blood Clots

      If you have been told you have a blood clot, your doctor may give you medicine to treat it. This type of medicine is called a blood thinner (also called an anticoagulant [an-te-ko-AG-u-lent]). In most cases, your doctor will tell you to follow this treatment plan:

      • For the first week you will receive medicine called heparin (HEP-a-rin) that works quickly.
      • This medicine is injected under the skin. You will learn how to give yourself these shots, or a family member or friend may do it for you.
      • You will also start taking Coumadin® (COO-ma-din)—generic name: warfarin (WAR-far-in)—pills by mouth. After about a week of taking both the shots and the pills, you will stop taking the shots. You will continue to take the Coumadin®/warfarin pills for about 3 to 6 months or longer.

      Side Effects of Blood Thinners

      Blood thinners can cause side effects. Bleeding is the most common problem. Your doctor will watch you closely. If you notice something wrong that you think may be caused by your medication, call your doctor.

      Are you bleeding too much?

      List of Terms

      Term Meaning
      Anticoagulant Medicine that thins your blood
      Blood clot Blood that clumps together
      Blood thinner Another name for medicine that prevents blood from clotting
      Coumadin®/warfarin, heparin Types of medicines that keep blood from clotting
      Deep vein thrombosis A blood clot that forms in the veins of the legs, arms, or groin
      Pulmonary embolism A blood clot that has traveled to your lungs
      Varicose veins Enlarged veins, often found in your legs

      Figure 1: Illustration of a Blood Clot

      Text Description

      This figure is a drawing of a human body with the heart and veins shown in the abdominal area and down to the legs. There is a large oval with an arrow pointing to a vein in the groin area. Within the oval is an illustration showing a close-up of a blood clot in the vein and the swelling in the area. Below the drawing is the text: “Blood clots can form in any deep veins of the body. Most often they form in the legs, arms, or groin.”

      Acknowledgments, Disclaimer, and Licensing

      This guide is based on a product developed by Ann Wittkowsky, Pharm.D., Brenda K. Zierler, Ph.D., R.N., R.V.T., and the V.T.E. Safety Toolkit Team at the University of Washington, Seattle, under Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Grant No. U18 HS015898-01.

      This document is in the public domain and may be used and reprinted without special permission. Citation of the source is appreciated.

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      The Problem
      Healthcare-associated venous thromboembolism (blood clots) is a significant, deadly, costly, and growing public health problem.

      Prevention Can Save Lives
      Proven ways to prevent blood clots from occurring during or after a healthcare encounter exist, but not all hospitals and healthcare facilities have put these prevention strategies into practice or use them routinely.

      What Is Healthcare-Associated Venous Thromboembolism?

      People who are currently or recently hospitalized, recovering from surgery, or being treated for cancer are at increased risk of developing serious and potentially deadly blood clots in the form of venous thromboembolism (VTE). A blood clot that occurs as a result of hospitalization, surgery, or other healthcare treatment or procedure is called healthcare-associated venous thromboembolism (HA-VTE).

      Why is HA-VTE a Public Health Problem?

      Each year VTE affects as many as 900,000 Americans, resulting in about 100,000 premature deaths. 1-2 The associated health care costs $10 billion or more each year in the United States. 1 More and more people living in the United States have factors that increase their risk for a VTE. Without improvements and consistent use of strategies to prevent VTE, we expect the number of people affected by VTE to increase. Although anyone can develop a blood clot, over half of blood clots are related to a recent hospitalization or surgery and most of these do not occur until after discharge. 3-6

      A recent analysis of the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) found that each year during 2007-2009, there were on average nearly 550,000 U.S. hospitalizations of adults that had a discharge diagnosis of VTE. 7 Fortunately, many cases of HA-VTE can be prevented. However, proven strategies to prevent HA-VTE are not being consistently or regularly applied across and within healthcare settings. Reports suggest that as many as 70% of cases of HA-VTE in patients could be prevented. 8-10 Despite this finding, fewer than half of hospitalized patients receive appropriate prevention measures. 11

      What Is Being Done to Reduce HA-VTE?

      Preventing HA-VTE in patients can result in a major decrease in overall VTE occurrence, illness, financial costs, and death. Reducing HA-VTE has been the subject of a number of patient safety and public health programs developed and promoted by federal agencies including Healthy People 2020 external icon .

      CDC recognizes the need to improve, advance, and guide prevention efforts to ensure that VTE prevention is a priority across the nation’s healthcare settings. This topic was the focus of the January 15, 2013, CDC Public Health Grand Rounds and the information presented was summarized in a subsequent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Nationally, CDC’s work has guided and fostered VTE research and informed efforts throughout the country, including the Surgeon General’s Call to Action external icon on preventing VTE.

      Currently, CDC is focusing on three main areas to promote, translate and implement strategies to prevent HA-VTE:

      Blood clots claim more over 100,000 lives yearly in the United States. Yet as serious a health issue as blood clots are, studies have shown at-risk patients often don’t receive treatments known to help prevent them.

      The Johns Hopkins Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) Collaborative has developed a video and an educational handout to better engage patients and their loved ones as partners in preventing blood clots.

      The handout is also available in:

      Content from the handout is adapted below. 

      What is a blood clot or venous thromboembolism (VTE)?

      Blood clots are called venous thromboembolisms (VTE). There are two main types:

      • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot in a deep vein, usually an arm or leg
      • Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a clot that has broken off and traveled to the lungs. This can cause death.

      Are blood clots serious?

      VTE kills over 100,000 people every year in the United States. This is more than the number of deaths caused by AIDS, motor vehicle collisions and breast cancer combined.

      VTE can cause problems that may affect you for the rest of your life. You may have:

      • long-term problems with breathing
      • a higher chance of getting another clot
      • swelling that will not go away
      • sores or wounds that will not heal

      How do I know if I have a blood clot?

      Some people who have VTE may not have any symptoms.

      People with DVT may have the following in an arm or leg:

      • swelling
      • pain or cramping
      • redness, tenderness or warmth

      People with PE may experience:

      • shortness of breath or are unable to catch their breath
      • pain in the rib cage area
      • coughing up blood

      What causes blood clots?

      People who are in the hospital have a higher chance of getting a VTE. Other things that raise your chance of getting a clot:

      • previous DVT/PE
      • major surgery
      • trauma
      • obesity
      • recent stroke
      • family history of VTE
      • bedrest
      • varicose veins
      • blood diseases
      • pregnancy
      • cancer and/or chemotherapy
      • birth control pills and/or hormone replacement therapy

      What are the most common tests my care team may order to see if I have a blood clot?

      Depending on your situation you may have:

      • a blood test called a D-Dimer
      • an ultrasound of the arm or leg to look for the DVT
      • a CAT scan of the chest with intravenous dye to look for PE

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalizationSequential compression devices gently squeeze the legs to improve blood flow and prevent clot formation.

      How can I prevent a blood clot?

      When you come to the hospital, the care team will look at all the risks you may have to get a clot. They then order what is best for you, to help stop a clot from starting.

      • Medicines are the best way to stop a clot from forming. The 2 main medicines that are used to help prevent clots are heparin and enoxaparin (Lovenox). Some people call them blood thinners. These are shots that will be given to you usually in the belly.
      • Special stockings also can help prevent clots. Sequential Compression Devices (SCDs) use a machine and squeeze the legs or feet gently. They need to be on as much as possible to help prevent clots. You may also be ordered compression stockings or TED hose. These also help with blood flow.

      Although many people think walking around prevents blood clots, this is not true. Moving around and walking are important to keep you well and can help prevent things like pneumonia and bedsores. Walking by itself does not prevent clots. This is why your care plan should also include medications and/or SCDs and/or compression stockings your care team has ordered.

      Pregnant women are 5 times more likely to get blood clots. Here's how to avoid them.

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      Pregnancy brings more than morning sickness and fatigue — it also brings a risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a preventable condition in which blood clots form in the veins. In fact, pregnancy and DVT risk go hand-in-hand. Pregnant women have a five times higher risk of deep vein thrombosis than women who aren't pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk remains up to three months after the baby is born.

      The reason expectant women should be mindful of the link between pregnancy and DVT is that an untreated clot has the potential to break free and travel through the bloodstream.

      “The fear is it will move to the heart or lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can lead to death,” says Daniel Roshan, MD, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.

      Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis in Pregnancy

      Why is there an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis when a woman is expecting? “A lot of physiological changes take place during pregnancy,” says Pamela Berens, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston. One is the compression in the pelvis from the baby. “There are also changes in clotting factors in the blood that begin early in pregnancy and last until a woman is six weeks postpartum,” she added.

      Pregnancy hormones play a role. “There’s a lot of estrogen circulating during pregnancy, and estrogen increases the risk of blood clots,” Dr. Roshan says. Women on birth control pills that contain estrogen are at a similar increased risk of DVT. Roshan says that women with genetic clotting disorders, called thrombophilias, are at an even higher risk for deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy.

      Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis in Pregnancy

      Certain factors that can further raise your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy include:

      • Being 35 or older
      • Previous blood clot during pregnancy or clot outside of pregnancy
      • A genetic predisposition to blood clots
      • Multiple births
      • Being overweight
      • Smoking involving use of hormones
      • Prolonged immobility, such as bed rest, travel, or recovery after delivery
      • Certain pregnancy-related complications like preeclampsia or conditions like diabetes.

      Having a cesarean delivery (C-section) nearly doubles a pregnant woman’s risk of a dangerous blood clot, the CDC reports.

      Race can also be a risk factor. Research has shown that the overall incidence of DVT and pulmonary embolism is 30 to 60 percent higher in Black people than in white people. This accounts for both men and women.

      Significant racial disparities exist in heart-related complications, including blood clots, among pregnant and postpartum women in the United States. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in December 2020, pregnant Black women were found to have a 42 percent higher likelihood of developing a blood clot in the lungs compared with white women. Black women also had a higher incidence of heart attack, stroke, and heart muscle weakness and were also more likely to die in the hospital.

      How to Recognize DVT Symptoms in Pregnancy

      You have enough on your mind without stressing over deep vein thrombosis. So instead of worrying, be aware of the symptoms. Most blood clots during pregnancy occur in the legs. “So watch for tenderness in the calf and thighs, pain in the back of your calf, and swelling, particularly if it is on one side more than the other,” Roshan said.

      Blood clots during pregnancy that have moved to the heart or lungs can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or both. This signals an even more serious situation.

      “If you have any signs of DVT, seek medical attention right away,” Roshan said. A healthcare professional will be able to easily see if your discomfort is due to a pregnancy blood clot by performing an ultrasound of the affected area.

      If you indeed have DVT, the treatment will be a blood thinner, usually Lovenox (enoxaparin), which is safe during pregnancy. “We treat the clot with a therapeutic dose for a few months and then lower it to a prophylactic (preventive) dose,” he said.

      For pregnant women with a prior history of DVT or blood clots during pregnancy or with a genetic thrombophilia, doctors usually prescribe blood thinners in the lower preventive dose. “We usually monitor women taking blood thinners throughout their pregnancies because as the pregnancy progresses, they sometimes need higher doses,” Roshan said. "And for women with a family history of DVT but no personal past history, we sometimes prescribe baby aspirin and tell them to be particularly cautious about symptoms."

      Prevent Pregnancy Blood Clots

      By virtue of being pregnant or in the postpartum period, expectant women and new moms are at an increased risk of DVT, so you can’t eliminate the risk completely. But there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of blood clots.

      Keep moving. “If you are overweight and sedentary, that will affect your blood flow and increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy,” Dr. Berens says. “So stay active and maintain a healthy weight.” If you have to be on bed rest because of an injury or complication in your pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe blood thinners as a precautionary measure.

      Get up during travel. “Flying in itself is a risk factor for DVT, so pregnant women who fly are definitely at an increased risk,” Berens said. If you have to fly, get up and move around every hour or two and do ankle roll exercises while you sit. “And do the same thing if you go on a long car or bus ride,” she added.

      Wear compression stockings. Because they help improve circulation and reduce swelling in the legs, compression stockings can help lower your risk of deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy, Roshan said.

      Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated during pregnancy helps prevent clots by keeping the blood from getting too thick, Roshan said. The CDC recommends that women drink 10 glasses of liquid every day during pregnancy and 12 to 13 glasses every day while breastfeeding.

      Overall, err on the side of caution when it comes to blood clots during pregnancy, for your sake and the sake of your baby. “Deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy can be life-threatening, so if you see any signs, don’t hesitate to go to your doctor to get checked,” Roshan said.

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      There is no sugar-coating it: blood clots are serious business.

      Whether they are in your legs, or somewhere potentially deadly like your lungs, blood clots are something you want to be aware of, and know the warning signs of. By being aware of blood clots, you may be able to prevent them from becoming major problems. You may even be able to prevent them from happening in the first place!

      If blood clots are a concern of yours, read on to find out ways that you can prevent them.

      What are Blood Clots?

      Most people hear the word “blood clot” and immediately think of danger. While that is sometimes the case, some blood clots are surprisingly good for you.

      As shared by the Mayo Clinic, blood clots “are gel-like clumps of blood” that have left the liquid state. In this state, blood clots can actually be beneficial, as it means they are “form[ing] in response to an injury or a cut, plugging the injured blood vessel, which stops bleeding.”

      However, people are right in thinking that the word “blood clot” can also mean danger because, as the Mayo Clinic also states, “Some blood clots form inside your veins without a good reason, and don’t dissolve naturally. These may require medical attention, especially if they are in your legs or are in more critical locations, such as your lungs and brain.”

      In short, it’s always better to err on the safe side and if you find yourself suffering from a blood clot, don’t wait to find out whether it’s a good kind or a bad kind — get yourself to a vein specialist ASAP.

      Risks and Dangers of Blood Clots

      Why is it so important that you don’t waste time when blood clots are involved?

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      For one, blood clots can get quite uncomfortable. Blood clots that happen in deep veins are called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While DVT can happen without any symptoms attached to it, oftentimes people experience swelling, pain, and a redness of their skin. That may be enough to get you to the doctor, but if not, then the potential that the clot breaks off and travels to your lungs should be enough. When that happens, it’s called a pulmonary embolism, and you’ve got yourself in a life-threatening situation.

      And what has the potential to put you at risk of blood clots?

      According to the CDC, “blood clots can affect anyone at any age, but certain risk factors, such as surgery, hospitalization, pregnancy, cancer and some types of cancer treatments can increase risks.” Also, having a family history of blood clots can increase a person’s risk.

      Thus, if any of these risks sound like they could be you, keep your eyes peeled for signs of a blood clot, including:

      • Swelling
      • Redness
      • Pain
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Painful breathing
      • Lightheadedness
      • Increased heartbeat
      • Chest pain
      • Weakness or numbness in face, arm or leg
      • Difficulty speaking
      • Vision changes

      How You Can Prevent Blood Clots Naturally

      Though there are no “natural remedies” for blood clots, there are some natural ways and lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of developing the clots.

      Stay active.

      Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can cause your blood to pool, which can lead to clots. Make it a point to get up every 30 minutes – 1 hour and move to get your blood flowing.

      Regular exercise.

      You don’t need to run 5 miles to keep your blood clots in check. Simply walking at least 30 minutes a day is a great way to keep your circulation moving.

      Lose weight.

      Blood clots can happen due to weight gain, and the additional vein pressure that occurs with extra pounds on your body. By losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, you alleviate some of that pressure on your veins and keep your clot risk lower.

      If traveling, be extra cautious.

      According to the CDC, “anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus, or train, can be at risk for blood clots.” In order to avoid these issues from happening, it is important you talk to a vein specialist if you think you’re at risk of blood clots. Additionally, take breaks during your travel to stand up and walk around to get your blood flowing. Stretch out your calves, flex your ankles and, as suggested by many airlines, pull your knees up to your chest and hold it there for around 15 seconds, repeating up to 10 times.

      Drink water.

      Staying hydrated is essential for a number of health reasons, but especially so when traveling. Flying is dehydrating due to the air on the plane, and that coupled with sitting for long periods of time when traveling can lead to blood clots.

      How to reduce blood clot risk during hospitalization

      If pregnant, keep moving.

      Blood clots can be a result of the hormone changes brought on by pregnancy, so to help combat that, it is important to keep your leg muscles contracting to help blood circulate. The best way to healthily do this is by walking.

      Keep feet raised when sleeping.

      We hope you’re able to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as it’s necessary for your health. However, that is time that you are sedentary and may suffer some clot issues. To help prevent that from happening, try elevating your legs while you sleep to keep your circulation going.

      Watch for signs.

      Be on the lookout for signs of blood clots that we mentioned above and contact your VCA vein specialist as soon as you feel something is wrong.