Deep Vein Clots and Blockage
Deep vein clots—especially those in the thigh—can break off and travel through the bloodstream. If a clot lodges in an artery in the lungs, it can block blood flow and lead to a sometimes-deadly condition called pulmonary embolism. This disorder can damage the lungs and reduce blood oxygen levels, which can harm other organs as well.
Some Have a Greater Risk of Deep Vein Clots
Some people are more at risk for deep vein thrombosis than others. Usually people who develop deep vein thrombosis have some level of thrombophilia, which means their blood clots more rapidly or easily. In these cases, lifestyle can contribute to a blood clot forming—if you don’t move enough, for example. Your risk is higher if:
- You’ve recently had surgery
- You’ve recently broken a bone,
- If you’re ill and in bed for a long time, or
- If you’re traveling for a long time (such as during long car or airplane rides).
Having other diseases or conditions can also raise your chances of a blood clot. These include a stroke, paralysis (an inability to move), chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, surgical procedure, or having been recently treated for cancer.
Women who take hormone therapy pills or birth control pills, are pregnant, or within the first 6 weeks after giving birth are also at higher risk. So are those who smoke or who are older than 60. But deep vein thrombosis can happen at any age.
Steps to Take to Decrease Your Risk of Having Blood Clots
You can take simple steps to lower your chances for a blood clot. Exercise your lower leg muscles if you’re sitting for a long time while traveling. Get out of bed and move around as soon as you’re able after having surgery or being ill. The more active you are, the better your chance of avoiding a blood clot. Take any medicines your doctor prescribes to prevent clots after some types of surgery.
If You Suspect a Clot, Get Prompt Medical Attention
A prompt diagnosis and proper treatment can help prevent the complications of blood clots. See your doctor immediately if you have any signs or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.. A physical exam and other tests can help doctors determine whether you’ve got a blood clot.
If you think you may be at risk for deep vein thrombosis, talk with your doctor.