A healthy circulatory system knows to clot blood when we get injured — coagulating, or becoming solid, and forming a scab to prevent more bleeding. But clots can also form in your arteries and veins, causing serious conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, organ damage and even death. Therefore understanding your risks and how to prevent blood clots is important to managing your health.
What are the risk factors?
Blood clots can happen to any person, but the following risk factors increase your chance of getting a blood clot:
- Recent surgery or long hospital stay
- Family history of blood clots
- Lengthy travel with long periods of sitting
- Hormonal birth control pills
- Trauma, such as a car accident
- Bed confinement
- Cancer and cancer treatments
- Irregular heartbeat
How can you prevent blood clots?
While any person can get a blood clot, you can take steps to reduce your chance of getting one.
Know your family history.
Do your parents, grandparents or siblings have a history of blood clots? If so, it’s important to know if they have a medical condition or what situation they were in when the clot happened. If you have a genetic predisposition, you can make better decisions about what medication you’re on and educate yourself more about blood clots.
Take care of yourself.
Maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, eat well and stay hydrated.
Move your body.
If you’re traveling or sitting in the same position for a long time, you’re more at risk. Stand up, walk move your arms and legs periodically. If you’re on a plane or in a car, contract your muscles while seated.
Know the signs.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away: swelling, pain, redness/discoloration in a limb; sudden unexplained shortness of breath; rapid heartbeat; unexplained cough paired with shortness of breath (sometimes with mucus and/or blood).
Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and what you can do to reduce your chance of getting a clot.
Am I a Candidate?
Determine if you are at risk for developing or already have symptoms for venous disease.