Worried about blood clots? There are things you can do to prevent them.
April 16, 2013
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What's the risk
While older men and women are most at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), younger women may also be vulnerable, especially during their childbearing years. Here’s how you can protect yourself.
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When you’re stuck in the same position for a long time, blood can pool in your legs, setting the stage for a clot. Every one to two hours, get up and walk around, whether you’re at your desk or on a long car or plane ride. (Contracting your leg muscles while seated can help, too.)
If your legs must be immobile for a week or longerwhether you’re in a cast or on bed rest during pregnancytalk to your doc about preventing DVT.
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If you smoke, quit. Keep your weight down. And drink a lot of waterstaying hydrated can lower your risk of blood clots.
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Be smart with meds
Taking the Pill increases your DVT risks, which means it may not be the right birth control choice if you have another risk factor (a genetic predisposition to clotting or a family history of DVT, or if you smoke).
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Know the signs
"DVT can be tough to spot because some symptoms can be signs of other problems too," says Roger Maxfield, MD, a pulmonologist and clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Look out for pain, swelling, and redness or discoloration in one leg; you also may experience a feeling of warmth on the skin at the affected area.
Sudden unexplained shortness of breath is the most common warning sign that the blood clot has traveled to the lungs. Also, some people with PE feel chest pain, have a rapid heartbeat, or cough up blood.
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If you have an injury or are going for surgery, talk to your doc about preventing DVT. And if you experience any of the above symptoms, go to the nearest ER. Tell the nurse if you’re on birth control pills, if you’ve been on a long plane ride, or if you’ve had surgery or an injury within the previous eight weeks.
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