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Prevent Episodes of Deep Vein Thrombosis; Keep Moving, Especially When Travelling

If you’ve experienced deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it’s crucial not to stay still for extended periods. Simple exercises can help prevent another episode of DVT.

DVT occurs when blood clots form in the deep veins, typically in a leg, potentially blocking blood flow, damaging valves, or causing fatal complications if the clot travels to major organs like the lungs.

Annually, 600,000 Americans are diagnosed with DVT, and one out of 100 of these cases is fatal. If you’re at risk, several preventive measures can be taken to avoid DVT.

Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as long flights or extended desk work, increase DVT risk. To prevent DVT, it’s essential to keep your blood flowing through movement and exercise.

Physician-recommended exercises for DVT prevention don’t necessarily involve vigorous activity. Simple exercises like leg stretches, bends, fluttering your legs while seated, and walking every few hours can help prevent blood clots.

The most beneficial exercises for DVT prevention are walking and swimming, as they promote blood flow. If at risk, avoid exercises involving repeated leg trauma.

Here are tips for maintaining blood flow during travel:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking water before and during your trip to reduce dehydration risk, making blood more prone to clotting.
  • Perform simple sitting exercises every half hour during long trips.
  • Walk up and down the aisle during flights or stretch frequently during car travel.

Effective exercises for DVT prevention include:

  • Tighten your calves by flexing your feet and raising your toes 15 times per set to promote proper blood flow.
  • Turn your ankles clockwise and counterclockwise, lifting one foot at a time off the floor.
  • Lift your feet with heels on the floor, raising and lowering your toes, and vice versa.

Risk factors for DVT:

  • Being over age 40
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Personal or family history of DVT
  • Immobilization
  • Pregnancy
  • Oral contraception (birth control) or hormone therapy use
  • Recent surgery or hospitalization
  • Smoking

Regardless of risk factors, remember to keep moving, especially during prolonged periods of sitting while traveling, working, or relaxing at home.