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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Preventing a deep vein thrombosis, also known as a DVT, is vital. A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs most commonly, but it can also occur in the veins of the upper extremities. That's because the blood clot, which usually forms in a calf or thigh deep veins, can partially or completely block blood flow back to the heart and cause damage to the one-way valves in the veins. The clot can also break free and travel through the blood to major organs, such as your lungs -- which can be fatal. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

About 350,000 Americans are diagnosed with DVT and pulmonary embolism each year, although it is estimated that some 300,000 more adults have undiagnosed DVT/PT. The condition has a 6%-12% mortality rate. If you're at risk, there is much you can do to prevent DVT.

Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

DVT: Dangers and Complications

If you’ve had DVT, there are ways to make sure you don’t have complications from it.

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DVT Prevention: Healthy Lifestyle and Regular Checkups

To lower your risk and help prevent DVT, take these steps:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle and exercise regularly -- daily, if possible. Walking, swimming, and bicycling are all great activities.
  • Manage weight with exercise as well as by eating a healthy diet.
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine therapy (in patches, gums, or sprays) and support groups can make this much easier to do.
  • Get blood pressure checked regularly; take steps to lower it, if necessary.
  • Report any family or personal history of blood-clotting problems to your doctor.
  • Discuss alternatives to birth control pills or hormone-replacement therapy with your doctor.
  • If you are on an airplane for more than 4 hours, either walk or do leg stretches in your seat and also stay well-hydrated and avoid alcohol consumption.

During pregnancy, ask your doctor what you can do to help prevent DVT.

Preventing DVT After Surgery or While Bedridden

If you need surgery, your surgeon will review your medical history to help assess the risk for DVT and determine whether you need aggressive measures to prevent it.

Your DVT risk may begin with becoming immobile and continue for several months following surgery. However, in some cases, the risk is greatest right after surgery and about 10 days afterward.

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