Deep Vein Thrombosis Prevention Lifestyle

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a serious condition that arises when clots form in the blood vessels of people’s legs. While those with sedentary lifestyles are at particular risk of developing DVT, so too are office workers, airline passengers and others who sit for long periods of time.

An estimated 300,000 Americans die each year from DVT-related complications. Fortunately, some lifestyle changes can reduce the chance of developing DVT. Knowing DVT risk factors is the first step in identifying possible changes you can make to reduce the risk of developing DVT.

Risk Factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT risk factors include:

  • auto-immune diseases or blood disorders linked to blood thickening that restricts circulation in the legs
  • being immobile or bed-ridden
  • heart conditions or past stroke episodes that impair blood flow
  • inactive lifestyles that decrease the circulation of blood in the legs
  • obesity
  • old age, as the elderly tend to exercise less frequently
  • pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen, that increase the chances of blood clots
  • recent surgery (within four weeks of the procedure)
  • the use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapies that have been linked to clotting.

Lifestyle Changes: Exercise to Prevent DVT

Although you may not be able to control the levels of pregnancy hormones in your body or the types of auto-immune diseases which you may develop, you can make a series of lifestyle changes that can greatly reduce the chances that you develop DVT. The most commonly recommended change is getting exercise.

Most doctors recommend that their patients get 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. These workouts can mean a trip to the gym, a brisk walk or even some forms of gardening. Basically, performing any activity that offers you a form of aerobic exercise (so that your heart rate increases and you sweat) a few times a week can help you ward off deep vein thrombosis.

If you currently don’t have an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor before starting any new routines. Many people with DVT risk factors need to approach exercise carefully in order to avoid injury.

For those who suffer from disabilities or are otherwise unable to exercise, even simple movement can help prevent DVT. Something as simple as a five-minute walk every hour or so can help reduce the risk of developing DVT. If you are a desk worker who cannot get up, experts recommend seated exercises, such as calf stretches and heel raises.

Other Tips for Preventing DVT

There are other simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing DVT:

  • Drink more water: Studies show that dehydration can lower circulation, increasing the chances that clots will lodge in your circulatory system. Maintaining proper hydration and avoiding excess alcohol can help reduce the risk of developing DVT.
  • Find alternatives to prescription drugs: Those at high-risk for DVT may want to consider alternatives to certain prescription drugs associated with restricted circulation. There are also drugs available to help keep blood flow open.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking is another factor that is commonly linked to lowered circulation. By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk of developing DVT significantly. Plus, you will also lower your blood pressure and your risk of developing several other diseases, such cancer and heart disease.
  • Wear compression stockings: Wearing compression stockings can stimulate circulation in the legs and help reduce your chances of developing DVT. These stockings can be purchased from pharmacies, hospitals and even travel stores.

DVT is a problem that the majority of doctors acknowledge. If you think you might be developing DVT, look for swelling, fever and bluish legs. Then contact your doctor as soon as possible so the symptoms can be addressed.

Resources

American Heart Association (n.d.). Circulation. Retrieved June 20, 2007, from the American Heart Association Web site: http://www.circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/110/16/e445/TBL1.

Encyclopedia Britannica (2007). Blood disease. Retrieved June21, 2007, from the Encyclopedia Britannica Online Web site: http://search.eb.com/eb/article-33549.

Prevent DVT (2007). New Survey Reveals 60 Percent of Americans Have Not Heard About DVT. Retrieved June 20, 2007, from the Prevent DVT Web site: http://www.preventdvt.org/docs/pdf/pressRelease/PressRelease03072007.pdf.