A blood clot, also referred to as a thrombus, occurs when a person's blood coagulates, or thickens. Blood coagulation is needed to help stop bleeding, but if a clot forms in veins or other blood vessels, serious health problems can occur. Many individuals at risk of developing blood clots are advised to take a blood thinner, exercise, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Wearing specialized clothing and elevating the legs may also help prevent blood clots, especially after surgery.
Blood thinners, or anticoagulants, are one of the most common ways to prevent blood clots. These medications help thin the blood and prevent it from thickening. Aspirin is one of the most common blood thinners, and it is usually taken in small doses. Prescription blood thinners are also available.
Many times, blood clots will develop in individuals who are immobile for long periods of time. Regular exercise is often recommended to help prevent blood clots. This can help keep blood pumping through the veins, preventing it from clotting. A daily exercise routine is considered very helpful when a person wants to prevent blood clots.
A healthy lifestyle is also recommended to help lower the risk of blood clots. This includes eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Also, individuals who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes are advised to quit, as these activities can greatly increase the risk of developing blood clots.
Tight-fitting clothing is also generally discouraged when trying to prevent blood clots. Pants with snug elastic waist bands and other similarly constrictive garments can restrict blood flow. Loose clothing is recommended.
Doctors often suggest compression socks to prevent blood clots. These socks are usually made from an elastic-like material, and they exert uniform pressure on the legs and feet. They are often used after surgery. This pressure can help improve circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
Patients who have undergone surgery are especially encouraged to take measures to prevent blood clots. While it may be painful or difficult, they are often advised to move around as soon as they are feeling well enough to do so. This will also help improve circulation and prevent pooling of the blood.
Bedridden patients can often develop deep vein thrombosis. This occurs when a large clot forms inside the deeper veins, usually in the legs, and it can be fatal if the clot travels to the lungs. To prevent blood clots of this sort, doctors recommend elevating the legs slightly. This can be done by raising the bottom of the bed roughly 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) or by placing pillows under the knees and ankles.