DVT is a blood clot that forms deep in your veins, most often in your leg. It can partially or completely block blood flow back to the heart and damage the one-way valves in your veins. It can also break free and travel to major organs, such as your lungs, which can be very dangerous. About 1 in 10 people die from DVT complications.
About 350,000 Americans are diagnosed with these blood clots each year, and almost as many have them and don't know it. Even if you're at risk, you can take steps to prevent DVT.
A pulmonary embolism (PE) usually happens when a blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), often in your leg, travels to your lungs and blocks a blood vessel. That leads to low oxygen levels in your blood. It can damage the lung and other organs and cause heart failure, too.
A PE can be life-threatening, so if you've been diagnosed with DVT, you should be aware of this risk. Follow the treatment plan for your DVT to stop the clot from getting bigger and to keep new clots from forming.
Exercise regularly -- daily, if possible. Walking, swimming, and bicycling are all great activities. Exercise will also help you manage your weight, along with eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet with lots of vegetables and fruits.
If you smoke, quit! Nicotine patches, gums, or sprays and prescription medications, along with support groups, can make kicking the habit easier.
Check your blood pressure at least once a year, more often if your doctor says to. Follow his instructions about taking medication if you need it. Exercise, eating well, and quitting smoking will help control your blood pressure, too.
Tell your doctor about any blood-clotting problems you or a close family member has had.
Your surgeon will let you know if DVT could be a problem for you. Sometimes, the risk is greatest right after surgery and for about 10 days afterward. Or you may get DVT because you're less active in the months following the procedure.
When you're in the operating room, local anesthesia that numbs just the area the doctor is working on might be better than general anesthesia that knocks you out. You may want to wear compression sleeves on your legs to help keep your blood flowing.
During recovery, make the foot of your bed taller than the pillow end. Do any exercises, such as leg lifts and ankle movements that your doctor recommends. Take your pain medicine to make it easier. Get out of bed and start ramping up your activity as soon as you can safely.