Minimising your DVT risk factors

The best thing you can do: keep moving

Although there are a handful of things that can put you at risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), medical science has not identified the full range of causes. At least 50% of the time, it is impossible to verify why a DVT formed. There are, however, a number of known lifestyle factors that are strongly correlated with the risk of developing a first or second blood clot. By adjusting your lifestyle, you may be able to reduce your risk.

Mobility is a major player

Even though medical professionals cannot always prove why certain conditions have a high correlation with DVT, lack of movement is a consistent theme. These high-risk categories listed here are considered to be strongly correlated to a lack of movement.
  • Surgery within the last three months
  • Wearing casts that significantly reduce range of motion
  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Smoking 
  • Stroke with paralysis

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Sometimes moving more is easier said than done. If you have cancer, you may be fatigued; if you’ve recently had surgery, it may not be possible to go for a daily 10-minute stroll; if you are dealing with obesity, that same 10-minute stroll could send your heart racing. 
Whatever your situation, the initial goal is to reduce your DVT risk. You can do that with small low-impact movements that get your heart rate up and your blood moving. If you have a limited range of motion or are under doctor’s orders (such as bed rest), ask your doctor about the best way to stay active and safe under the circumstances. 

You can make small adjustments to your daily regime

Ask your doctor about wearing prescription-strength compression stockings, which may help prevent blood clots, relieve swelling and reduce pain. 

Go here for a leaflet on compression stockings.

Keep your legs propped up off of the floor if you are sitting down for a while.

Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol as they can be dehydrating. 

Try to stay as active as you can

  • Gentle exercise can help relieve pain. It is best to avoid anything that is too intense and may cause bruising. 
  • When you are not sleeping, avoid sitting or lying down for more than 4 hours at a time. On the other hand, you should also try not to stand up for too long as this can lead to swelling in the legs. Vary your position and try to incorporate small movements.
  • If possible, avoid long-haul flights during the first months of treatment. If that is not possible, be sure to speak with your doctor and follow the above advice. Get up and move around as frequently as possible and keep your legs propped up whenever possible.

What about age?

Although aging does not cause DVT, the condition does tend to affect older individuals more often. This is because age is linked to many of the high-risk situations that can lead to DVT. For example, certain types of cancer occur more frequently as we age, and mobility and recovery periods after surgery can be more of a challenge in our later years.

DVT is a serious condition, but getting control of your risk factors can go a long way towards preventing future clots from forming. If you need more information on certain risk factors and how to minimise them, please contact your doctor.

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