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How do I prevent blood clots?

I know that blood clots can be very dangerous, especially if they travel to your lungs. I've heard that people can get them from sitting on planes for long periods of time. I don't travel much but I do sit at a desk all day at work. Am I at risk for blood clots too? Is there anything I should be doing to prevent them?


Doctors Answers (6)

It is best to get up and move around every two hours to keep the blood circulating well in your leg veins. You should avoid smoking and exercise regularly.

To prevent blood clots from prolonged sitting on long travel either by car or plane consider taking a dose of aspirin before the trip and during the trip if you are not able to get up and walk around for a few minutes (standing is not really helpful) every 20-30 minutes or when ever your legs feel like they need to move. Then you can move your feet bringing the front of the foot up and down and also do a set moving the heel of the foot up and down. This will use the calf muscle to decompress venous pooled blood and lift blood through the circulation back up towards the heart which will feel better and help prevent blood clots. Finally, wearing compression hose on the legs is also beneficial in improving venous circulation and reducing the risk of clots.

Great question. Anyone who sits still for long periods of time which decreases the blood return in the veins is prone to blood clots. If you travel for extended periods of time (car and plane) and/or sit in a sedentary work environment you need to be well hydrated and walk, exercise the calf and thigh muscles and wear a compression knee length sock. These are now comfortable, stylish and lifesaving. Adding a baby aspirin (81mg) can also help but you should clear this with your primary care doctor first.

Wearing graded compression stockings can help prevent blood clots. You can get the appropriate graded treatment and evaluation from your physician. Prolonged stationary positions, standing or sitting as well as flying put you at risk.

Blood clots can form in veins in the legs with inactivity, especially if one is kept constrained, as in an airline seat. The best thing to do to prevent clots is to frequently activate the muscle pumps in your legs, and wear graduated compression knee high(socks) or full length stockings. If you are sitting for long periods of time,you should try to get up every hour and move around for a few minutes. If you cannot stand and walk, then you should do "heel and toe points" with your knee bent, at least 10 times each hour. This gets your calf muscles contracting and pumping blood out of your legs!

If you are healthy, your risk is not high with normal activities. Usually it is people on long haul flights over six hours in coach class. If you are seated for long periods, I would recommend moving your legs by walking every hour doing calf raises or pointing and flexing your feet. You should stay hydrated and consider wearing compression hose as well. Blood clots are much higher in people with cancer, post surgery, with immobilization injuries or trauma and other conditions where you are limited in your movement, i.e. hospital admission, nursing home stays, etc.

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