Blood clots can form in the veins and lungs, and this condition is called venous thromboembolism. The symptoms and consequences of this disease for the body differ depending on the place of blood clot formation, however, all blood clots can be fatal if nothing is done with them. Blood clots can cause heart attack and stroke. To protect yourself from this disease, it is worth knowing how you can prevent blood clots.
Method 1 of 2: Assessing Risk Factors
Step 1. Know that the risk of blood clots increases with age
The risk of having a first blood clot is 100 per 100,000. However, this value changes significantly with age: by the age of 80, blood clots form in 500 out of 100,000 people. At a more mature age, it is important to constantly monitor your health and make regular check-ups.
Surgery and fractures of the hip or lower leg increase the risk of blood clots
Step 2. Assess your level of physical activity
The risk of blood clots in the lungs is higher in people who are sedentary or sedentary. People who sit for more than six hours in their spare time are twice as likely to have pulmonary embolism compared to people who sit for just two hours. Prolonged periods of lying, sitting, or standing in one place can cause blockage of blood vessels, which can lead to thrombosis. For this reason, blood clots often form in hospitalized patients, especially after surgery, and in people who travel long distances.
Step 3. Calculate your body mass index
Obese people are at greater risk than people of normal weight. The connection is not completely clear, but experts suggest that it is at least partly due to estrogen, which is produced by fat cells. Estrogen is another separate risk factor. Fat cells also produce proteins called cytokines that can promote blood clots. In addition, it is not uncommon (though not always) that obese people lead a less active lifestyle than people of normal weight.
- To calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index), use an online calculator like this one. On such sites, you need to enter your age, weight, height and gender.
- An obese person will have a BMI above 30. If the BMI is between 25 and 29.9, the weight is considered overweight. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Readings below 18.5 indicate that you are underweight.
Step 4. Pay attention to hormone levels
Hormonal changes, especially in estrogen levels, increase the risk of thrombosis. Blood clots are common in postmenopausal women who take estrogen as part of hormone replacement therapy. The risk of blood clots is also higher in women taking oral contraceptives and in pregnant women.
Before you start taking hormones, discuss potential risks and other treatment options with your doctor
Step 5. Learn more about hypercoagulation
Coagulation is blood clotting. This is a normal property of blood. Without it, one would die of blood loss at the slightest cut. Although coagulation is a natural process, hypercoagulation is dangerous because it clots blood together, even if inside the body. Hyperagulation can be caused by prolonged periods of sitting and lying, cancer, dehydration, smoking, and hormone therapy. You are more likely to develop hypercoagulability if:
- there were cases of thrombosis in the family;
- you have blood clots at an early age;
- you have had blood clots during pregnancy;
- you have had multiple miscarriages for unclear reasons;
- you have a genetic disorder (specifically, Factor V Leiden mutation or lupus anticoagulant).
Step 6. Find out what other health problems increase your risk of blood clots
Atrial fibrillation (arrhythmia) and a buildup of cholesterol plaques in the arteries can also lead to blood clots.
- If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, this means that the blood flows unevenly through the vessels, which is why it can accumulate in certain places, forming blood clots.
- With atrial fibrillation, the only symptom may be an uneven pulse. Usually this disease is diagnosed at a routine examination. It is treated with anticoagulants or other medications. Often, doctors recommend changing the lifestyle, and in some cases, surgery or the installation of a pacemaker is indicated.
- Plaques of cholesterol can build up in arteries (sometimes due to atherosclerosis). If the plaque breaks out, it can cause a blood clot to form. Most heart attacks and strokes are caused by a ruptured plaque in the heart or brain.
Method 2 of 2: Preventing Thrombosis
Step 1. Exercise regularly
Research shows that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week reduces the risk of many diseases. This means that you should set aside 20-30 minutes for aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, aerobics) per day. Pick an activity that you enjoy and don't quit. Exercise improves blood circulation and overall health, which prevents blood clots from forming.
Step 2. Raise your legs throughout the day
This can be done while resting or sleeping. Raise your legs from your feet, not from your knees, that is, do not put pillows under your knees. Try to lift your feet about 10-15 centimeters above the level of your heart. Don't cross your legs.
Step 3. Dilute long periods of sitting with some activity
It is important to exercise every day, but sitting all day and then running for 20 minutes is not enough. If you are sitting or lying down for a long time (for example, traveling, working at the computer, or lying down due to illness), you should get up and warm up from time to time. Get up every two hours and do simple exercises: you can just walk or stretch your calves (roll from toes to heels and back).
Any situation in which you are forced to sit with your knees bent (classic position) is potentially hazardous to your health
Step 4. Drink plenty of fluids
Severe dehydration thickens the blood and promotes the formation of blood clots. All people should drink plenty of water, but this is especially important for the elderly and people with an increased risk of blood clots. Men are advised to drink three liters of fluid a day, while women are advised to drink two.
- Avoid feeling thirsty. Thirst is the first obvious sign of dehydration. If you feel thirsty, then you are close to dehydration.
- Another early sign is dry mouth or very dry skin.
- To quickly restore water balance, it will be enough to drink water. If you have diarrhea, vomiting, or sweat a lot, drinking an electrolyte drink may be helpful.
Step 5. Get regular check-ups with your doctor during pregnancy
High estrogen levels increase the risk of thrombosis. However, during pregnancy, nothing can be done about estrogen levels. You can only avoid other risk factors (for example, smoking and prolonged sitting) and see a doctor on time.
- If you start to form blood clots during pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe medications that you can take during pregnancy to prevent blood clots from reaching your lungs or brain, which can be life-threatening.
- Taking anticoagulants during pregnancy can be dangerous because they can interfere with the anchoring of the placenta.
- However, in very dangerous cases of venous thromboembolism, special drugs can save lives. After giving birth, women are often switched to other drugs that are compatible with breastfeeding.
- Venous thromboembolism is one of the most common causes of maternal death in the United States and Western Europe.
Step 6. Discuss hormone replacement therapy alternatives with your doctor
Hormone replacement therapy can relieve symptoms of menopause, but it increases the risk of blood clots. Soy phytoestrogens may be a non-hormonal treatment option. These substances help relieve hot flashes without causing thrombosis. You can also eat more soybeans and tofu and drink soy milk. However, in the case of soy, it is impossible to calculate the required amount of phytoestrogens.
You can also try not to relieve your menopausal symptoms. They are uncomfortable, but not hazardous to health
Step 7. Take hormonal contraceptives only as directed by your doctor
The combination of estrogen and progestin in most birth control pills increases the risk of blood clots three to four times. However, the risk of thrombosis in healthy women without other prerequisites is quite low - one woman in 3000 faces this problem.
- Women with heavy periods or endometrial problems should choose non-hormonal methods of contraception if possible. Consideration should be given to the use of oral contraceptives without estrogen (only with progesterone) or even non-hormonal agents (for example, intrauterine devices).
- But even if you already have blood clots, you may be allowed to take oral contraceptives if you take anticoagulants at the same time. The doctor may also choose a contraceptive option with little or no estrogen, which will reduce the chance of blood clots.
Step 8. Monitor your weight
Since excess fat cells in obesity are associated with the likelihood of developing venous thromboembolism, it is worth reducing your weight to normal if you are obese (BMI 30 or above). The safest way to lose weight is through exercise and proper nutrition. Although caloric intake should be limited, many doctors and nutritionists agree that eating less than 1200 calories a day is dangerous. If you move and exercise a lot, eat more. For personalized nutritional advice, see your dietitian.
- Track your heart rate during exercise with a heart rate monitor.
- To calculate your desired heart rate, first determine your maximum allowable heart rate: subtract your age from 220.
- Multiply the resulting number by 0, 6 - this will be the heart rate value to which you will need to strive. Try to exercise so that your heart rate stays that way for 20 minutes when exercising at least 4 times a week.
- For example, a 50-year-old woman should strive for a value of 102: (220-50) x 0.6 = 102.
Step 9. Wear compression socks or stockings
Compression stockings prevent blood clots. People who spend a lot of time on their feet (such as nurses and doctors) often wear them to improve circulation. They can also be worn if you have previously had blood clots to reduce leg pain and swelling. Sometimes they are worn by patients who spend a lot of time in bed.
You can buy compression garments at many pharmacies. If the socks or stockings reach the knee, this will be enough to prevent thrombosis
Step 10. Talk to your doctor about preventive medications
If your doctor thinks you are at risk, he or she may prescribe preventive treatment for you. Depending on your health condition, your doctor may prescribe either a stronger (Warfarin, Clexane) or a weaker over-the-counter medicine (such as acetylsalicylic acid).
- Warfarin is usually taken once a day. It can interact with vitamin K in different ways, and this is important for blood circulation, so dosages are determined individually and can vary greatly.
- "Kleksan" is available in the form of a solution for injection. You can give injections at home. The dosage depends on the weight.
- Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is a good drug for people who have a lower risk of thrombosis and can be bought without a prescription. Aspirin has been shown to prevent blood clots as well as heart attack and stroke.
Step 11. Seek medications if you have cancer
Every fifth person with malignant tumors develops thrombosis. This is attributed to many factors, including cancer-related inflammation, immobility, and drug side effects. Cancer patients are usually prescribed "Warfarin" or "Clexane". They can also be shown the installation of a filter on the inferior vena cava. This filter does not allow the clot to pass higher if it breaks off from a vein in the leg. This prevents the blood clot from reaching the heart, which prevents mortal danger.
Step 12. Don't believe in natural remedies unconditionally
While there are examples of how natural remedies have helped cancer patients fight blood clots, none of this is scientifically proven. Proponents of natural therapies argue that phytonutrients may help prevent thrombosis in people with cancer. However, scientists have not been able to identify the mechanism of the effect of such nutrition on inflammation and cytokine production. The special diet prescribes the following foods and supplements:
- fruits: apricots, oranges, blackberries, tomatoes, pineapples, plums, blueberries;
- spices: curry, cayenne pepper, red pepper, thyme, turmeric, ginger, ginkgo, licorice;
- vitamins: vitamin E (walnuts, almonds, lentils, oat and wheat groats), omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish - for example, red fish or trout);
- plants: sunflower seeds, canola and safflower oil;
- supplements: garlic, ginkgo biloba, vitamin C, nattokinase;
- wine and honey.
- If you develop swelling and pain in one or two legs, and your skin is red, blue, or seems too hot, you may have deep vein thrombosis. You should see your doctor as soon as possible.
- If you have shortness of breath, acute chest pain; if you feel dizzy, have a fast heartbeat and may faint; if you have an unexplained cough with bloody mucus, you may have a pulmonary embolism. Call an ambulance at 103 (mobile) or 03 (landline), or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. A blood clot could have formed in your lung, so a doctor should urgently see you.