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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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

One of the worst things you can do if you've had deep vein thrombosis is stay still for long periods of time. Simple exercises may help you to prevent another episode of DVT.

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, occurs when blood clots form in the deep veins, usually in a leg. The blood clot can partly or completely block blood flow and damage valves in blood vessels. It can also break free and travel through your blood to major organs, such as your lungs -- which can be fatal.

Doctors diagnose DVT in 600,000 Americans each year. One out of 100 of these people die. If you're at risk, there is much you can do to prevent DVT.

Being still for long periods of time, such as travelling on a long airplane flight or sitting at a desk most of your work day increases your risk of DVT. To prevent the development of DVT, it's important to keep your blood flowing by moving and exercising.

When exercise is recommended by your physician to prevent DVT, this is not necessarily talking about vigorous exercise. There are simple exercises and preventative measures you can follow to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. By simply moving your legs by stretching them, doing leg bends, fluttering your legs while seated, and walking around every few hours to stimulate your leg muscles, you can help to prevent the development of blood clots.

The best exercises for DVT prevention are walking and swimming because these exercises keep your blood flowing.  If you're at risk for DVT, avoid exercises that involve repeated thrusting that may cause trauma to your legs.

Here are some tips to keep your blood moving when traveling:
•    Drink plenty of water before and during your trip. This will reduce your risk of dehydration, which can make your blood more likely to clot.
•    Perform simple sitting exercises every half hour or so, when on long trips.
•    Take a walk up and down the aisle during airplane flights to move around. If traveling by car, stop and get out stretching frequently.

Here are some exercises that are useful for DVT prevention:
•    Tighten your calves. Flex your feet and raise your toes 15 times per set. This will tighten your calf muscles and promote proper blood flow through your legs.
•    Turn your ankles. With your feet off the floor, move one foot clockwise, the other, counterclockwise. Repeat, only switch directions.

•    Lift your feet. With your heels on the floor, raise your toes up; then lower them to the ground. Then do the opposite — heels up, balls of your feet on the floor.
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 your risk factors in order to prevent DVT, remember to keep moving, especially when sitting for long periods of time while traveling, at work, or even relaxing at home.

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