Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the leg. It can cause leg pain and swelling, heated skin and discoloration. The real risk is that the clot may travel to the lungs, which IS CALLED a Pulmonary Embolism. In this medical emergency, oxygen-rich blood may not be able to get into the lungs, which is a life-threatening condition.
Factors That Increase the Risk of DVT
Risk factors for DVT include:
- Long periods sitting or standing
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Birth control or hormone replacement therapy
- Underlying health conditions, such as heart failure or diabetes
- Long-haul flights
- Long drives
- Blood disorders (hypercoagulability or thick blood)
How to Prevent DVT
If you want to prevent DVT, make sure you:
- Stand up and walk around periodically on long flights.
- Take rest breaks and walk around regularly on long car rides.
- Avoid crossing your legs when you sit for long periods of time.
- Talk to your doctor about compression socks if you are at risk of DVT.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid tight clothing, especially if you will be sitting for long periods of time.
- Stop smoking.
- Stay hydrated to keep fluids moving in your body.
Exercises to Prevent Blood Clots
Sometimes, you may not be able to avoid sitting for long periods of time. You may have a desk job, be in long meetings or take long flights. In these cases, try some DVT prevention exercises, even as you stay seated:
- Elevate your heels: Elevate your heels off the ground as if you’re doing calf raises.
- Pump your legs: Try moving your legs out at the knee and back in, as though you are on a swing. Even if you are in a plane seat and can only move a few inches, this will create movement. Do five sets every hour.
- Foot circles: Lift your feet off the ground and circle them clockwise for 10 seconds. Then try counterclockwise for another 10 seconds.
How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis After Surgery
Surgery can put you at risk of DVT because you are immobile for an extended period of time during the surgery and during recovery. DVT is most likely to happen during general anesthesia. Once ambulatory the risk is reduced but increased if sedentary.
To reduce your risk, always follow your surgeon’s and doctor’s instructions. Your doctor may tell you to start walking around a day or two after your operation. Be sure to keep walking and moving as much as you can and as much as your doctor advises. After you return home, get back to gentle physical activity once your medical team clears you for movement.
Speak With a DVT Expert
If you are worried about your vein health or have been diagnosed with DVT, we are here to help. Contact Central Florida Vein and Vascular Center for an appointment with an experienced, compassionate vascular surgeon who will review your treatment options with you.