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Slideshow: Living with DVT

Stay Alert in the Air

When you're on a long flight, stay away from alcohol and sleeping pills. You need to stay awake enough to get up and walk around every hour or two. It's important to boost your circulation and keep your muscles moving. When you're sitting, change your position often. Don't cross your legs, since that can reduce blood flow.

Try Compression Stockings

Your doctor may recommend compression stockings to help prevent clots. These put pressure on your feet and legs to improve circulation.

If you don't like a particular pair, don't give up. Talk to your doctor first. A different brand may help. Make sure you have the right size and the right amount of pressure. Also ask your doctor if compression socks might be more comfortable for you.

Deskercise: Foot Pumps

Whenever you're at your desk -- or stuck traveling -- try to regularly move your feet and calf muscles. Try pumping your feet. While you're seated, put your feet flat on the floor. Raise your toes in the air while keeping your heels on the ground. Hold for 3 seconds. Then reverse -- plant your toes, raise your heels, and hold for 3 seconds.

Get Moving

Regular physical activity is a great way to prevent DVT. It boosts your circulation and prevents swelling. Exercise can also help you keep a healthy weight, which also lowers your risk. Exercise can improve your lung function too, which is key if you've had a pulmonary embolism.

Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise routine. Lots of people start slowly with gentle exercises like walking or swimming.

Schedule Breaks

If you're at a desk all day, use a timer on your computer or phone to schedule breaks. Set it for 1 to 2 hours. When it goes off, get up and walk for a few minutes, then reset the alarm. If it helps, set your timer more often to remind you to stretch your legs and feet and move them around while you're at your desk.

Prep for Travel

If you're going on a trip, wear light, loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Don’t wear anything that could restrict your circulation. Drink lots of water, too. Ask your doctor if you need to take any extra medication -- or a different medication -- during your trip.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke, now's the time to quit. Smoking restricts your blood flow and makes clots more likely. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit -- like nicotine gum or patches, or prescription medicine.

Seize the moment: Use your DVT as a wake-up call and an opportunity to make lasting changes to your lifestyle.

Ankle Circles

Looking for another easy exercise to do when you're sitting in a waiting room or at the movies? Lift your feet off the floor and circle them to the right. Do this for 15 seconds, then reverse.

Reduce Drug Side Effects

Blood thinners can be essential after a DVT, but they can cause bleeding. Protect yourself from nicks and cuts with changes to your daily habits. Instead of a razor blade, switch to an electric razor. Be careful when using nail clippers, scissors, or knives. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and waxed floss -- they're less likely to cause bleeding in your mouth. Ask your doctor about other precautions you should take.

Relax

Life after DVT can be stressful. You may worry about having another blood clot. Just remember that many people who get DVT don't get it again, especially if they follow their doctor's treatment plan. Your risk goes down over time, too. The longer you stay healthy, the lower your chances of having another one.

Use mindfulness, deep breathing, or other forms of meditation to reduce your stress. Download an audiobook on your phone or tablet to learn new techniques.

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 14, 2013

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