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British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Deep vein thrombosis is a medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of blood clots, and certain steps you can take to reduce them if this is the case. The Mayo Clinic says there are many measures to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which include avoiding sitting still.

It says: “If you have had surgery or have been on bed rest for other reasons, try to get moving as soon as possible.

“If you’re sitting for a while, don’t cross your legs, clonazepam for fibromyalgia pain which can block blood flow. If you’re travelling a long distance by car, stop every hour or so and walk around.”

The organisation says if you’re on a plane, stand or walk occasionally, and if you cannot do that, exercise your lower legs.

It says: “Try raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor, then raising your toes with your heels on the floor.”

Risk factors include if you are staying in or recently left hospital, especially if you cannot move around much after an operation.

If you are at a high risk of blood clots after having been in hospital follow the advice of your care team about preventing clots.

“This may involve wearing stockings that improve your blood flow or taking medicine to reduce the risk of clot,” according to the NHS.

Other risk factors include if you are overweight or using combined hormonal contraception, such as the combined pill.

If you are pregnant or have just had a baby, your risk is also higher. Similarly, if you have an inflammatory condition such as Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis, this can increase your risk of clots.

Being older than 60 increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis, though it can occur at any age.

If you are at higher risk you should not drink lots of alcohol as this can make you dehydrated, and more prone to clots. If you smoke it also increases your risk. Smoking affects blood clotting and circulation, which can increase your risk.

Sometimes, a blood clot in a vein can occur with no apparent underlying risk factor.

People can naturally dissolve blood clots after the internal injury has healed.

However, when clots do not dissolve naturally, they restrict normal blood flow to the heart, turning into a serious medical condition.

The Mayo Clinic says DVT signs and symptoms can include:

  • Swelling in the affected leg. Rarely, there’s swelling in both legs.
  • Pain in your leg. The pain often starts in your calf and can feel like cramping or soreness.
  • Red or discoloured skin on the leg.
  • A feeling of warmth in the affected leg.

Nonetheless, it notes that deep vein thrombosis can occur without noticeable symptoms.

The organisation adds if you develop signs or symptoms of DVT, contact your doctor.

“If you develop signs or symptoms of a pulmonary embolism (PE) — a life-threatening complication of deep vein thrombosis — seek emergency medical help,” it states.

The Mayo Clinic says warning signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath or when you cough
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or fainting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing up blood.

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