Avoid Deadly Blood Clots

blood clotsTravelers on long trips, pregnant women, and people on the mend from surgery or injury are among those at risk for a silent threat that lurks in veins deep in their bodies. Blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may form there, break free, and block lung arteries—a potential killer.

Together, DVT and clots in lung arteries (called pulmonary embolisms) affect up to 600,000 Americans a year and kill as many as 100,000.


There’s a lot you can do to prevent DVT and pulmonary embolism. Anyone who is inactive for extended periods is at risk. That means you should take precautions—even if you’re in good health—whenever you sit for a long time at work, travel for extended periods, or stay immobile for other reasons.

These simple tips can help prevent clots:

  • Stand up and move around every two to three hours.
  • Stretch and exercise your legs while sitting.
  • Wear clothes that fit loosely.
  • Drink plenty of water and stay away from beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine.

Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking can help you stay healthy—and prevent DVT.

Are You at Risk?

DVT and pulmonary embolisms can affect anyone, but they occur more often in people with one of these risk factors:

  • Age 60 or older
  • Previous history of DVT
  • Family history of DVT
  • Long periods of inactivity that slow blood flow (such as a long car or plane ride)
  • Smoking
  • Major surgery, particularly orthopedic or cancer surgery
  • Broken bones, trauma, or other conditions that hurt deep veins
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Estrogen replacement therapy after menopause
  • Some chronic illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy (risk remains heightened for six weeks after delivery)
  • African-American heritage

People with more than one risk factor are even more prone to problems. Talk with your doctor if you have any risk factors. The doctor can suggest lifestyle changes and treatments to help prevent DVT. 

Our Heart and Vascular Care

At WCHN, we offer care for a wide variety of heart and vascular conditions, including DVT. Learn more about our services and how we may be able to help you: