The three simple ways to prevent life threatening blood clots from forming

British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

A certain amount of clotting in the blood is necessary as it prevents excessive bleeding.

However, blood clots that do not naturally dissolve can be dangerous.

This is because they can travel around the body, and prevent blood flow to certain organs.

If a clot reaches the brain, for example, it can result in a stroke.

There is also the risk of a heart attack or pulmonary embolism if you have a clot.

READ MORE Expert’s three tips to prevent blood clots – a quarter of Britons at risk

It is common for blood clots to first form in a deep vein within a limb such as the arm or leg.

This is known as deep vein thrombosis – or DVT.

Symptoms of DVT often include throbbing pain in one leg when walking or standing up and swelling in one leg.

According to the NHS it can also cause:

  • Warm skin around the painful area
  • Red or darkened skin around the painful area – this may be harder to see on brown or black skin
  • Swollen veins that are hard or sore when you touch them.

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There are a multitude of factors that can lead to a blood clot.

Some of these are beyond our control, like being genetically high risk for clotting.

However, some factors are caused by lifestyle and therefore there are steps we can take to minimise our risk.

The NHS lists three key ways to to do, which are:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying active – taking regular walks can help
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration – DVT is more likely if you’re dehydrated.

There are also some things that should be avoided for the same reason.

These are:

  • Sitting still for long periods of time – get up and move around every hour or so
  • Crossing your legs while you’re sitting
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking lots of alcohol.

You are also more at risk of a blood clot if you have spent a lot of time sitting or lying down due to a hospital stay, or due to a long-haul flight.

While in hospital you can protect yourself against a DVT by:

  • Staying active and walking around if you can
  • Moving your toes (up and down) and ankles (in circles) if you have to stay in bed – your healthcare team may give you some exercises to do
  • Wearing compression socks.

If you are travelling for more than three hours by car, plane or car you should:

  • Wear loose clothing
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Walk around when possible.

Other factors that increase your risk of DVT are if you are over the age of 60, have had DVT before, have varicose veins, have cancer or heart failure, or take the contraceptive pill of HRT.

If you experience signs of a blood clot you should call 111.

If you experience these coupled with breathlessness or chest pain you should call 999 or go to A&E.

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