Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis
Healthcare providers use the term
venous thromboembolism (VTE) to
describe two conditions: deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). They
the term VTE because the two conditions are very closely related. And because their
prevention and treatment are closely related.
a blood clot or thrombus in a deep vein. Most of these clots develop in the leg or
thigh. But they may form in a vein in the arm, or other part of the body.
the blood clot may separate from the vein. This is called an embolus. It may travel to
lungs and form a pulmonary embolus. This can cut off the flow of blood to a portion
to the entire lung. A blood clot in the lungs is a medical emergency and may cause
time, blood clots can also damage veins. They must be treated right away to prevent
Anyone can get a blood clot. But the following things make a blood clot more likely
Being inactive for a long period, such as when you’re in the hospital, or traveling
by plane or car
Injury to a vein from an accident, a broken bone, or surgery
Having blood clots in the past or a family history of blood clots
Having a blood clotting disorder
Having cancer and certain cancer treatments
Other things can also put you at higher risk for a blood clot. They include:
Being over 60 years old
Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement
Having other vein problems, such as varicose veins
Having a pacemaker or a central venous catheter. They increase the chance of a blood
clot forming in an arm.
Using injected drugs(also increases the chance of a blood clot forming in an
you have symptoms of a blood clot in your lungs, call
When to call your healthcare provider
If you have symptoms of a blood clot, call your healthcare provider. The symptoms
How to prevent DVT
Preventing a blood clot means improving blood flow back to your heart. To help prevent
a blood clot:
Talk with your healthcare provider about a program of regular exercise.
If your legs feel swollen or heavy, take a break and sit comfortably or lie down with
your feet up.
Keep a healthy weight.
Quit smoking, if you smoke.
Don't sit, stand, or lie down for long periods without moving your legs and feet:
When traveling by car, stop often to get out and move around.
On long airplane, train, or bus rides, get up and move around when possible.
If you can’t get up, wiggle your toes and tighten your calves to keep your blood moving,
as pictured below.
If you need to have surgery, talk with your healthcare provider about a plan to prevent
you are in the hospital, your risk for blood clots increases. Your healthcare provider
may prescribe blood-thinner medicine (anticoagulant) to help prevent blood clots.
Or your healthcare provider may prescribe a sequential compression device (SCD) or
intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC). These devices have sleeves that fit around
your legs. It puts gentle pressure on your legs to help with blood flow and
prevent blood clots. Remove the sleeves so that you don't trip or fall when you are
walking, like when you use the bathroom or shower. If you need help removing the
sleeves, ask the nurse or aid. You may also want to try the following: