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Deep Vein Thrombosis Prevention
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Some conditions increase your risk for a DVT. These include a family history of blood clots or a blood clotting disorder, such as factor V Leiden. Lack of activity, cigarette smoking, obesity, and birth control pills can also increase the risk. You can lower your risk by following the directions from your doctor or specialist. You can also make lifestyle changes to prevent blood clots.
Call your doctor or hematologist if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take a blood thinner. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any other medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Take your blood thinner exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not skip does or take less than prescribed. Tell your provider right away if you forget to take your blood thinner, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin:
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
What you can do to prevent a DVT:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for you. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can damage blood vessels and increase your risk for a DVT. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Change your body position or move around often. Move and stretch in your seat several times each hour if you travel by car or work at a desk. In an airplane, get up and walk every hour. In an airplane, get up and walk every hour. Move your legs by tightening and releasing your leg muscles while sitting. You can also move your legs while sitting by raising and lowering your heels. Keep your toes on the floor while you do this. You can also raise and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the floor.
- Exercise regularly to help increase your blood flow. Walking is a good low-impact exercise. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
- Ask about birth control if you are a woman who takes the pill. A birth control pill increases the risk for blood clots in certain women. The risk is higher if you are also older than 35, smoke cigarettes, or have a blood clotting disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider about other ways to prevent pregnancy, such as a cervical cap or intrauterine device (IUD).
What you can do to prevent another DVT:
After you have a DVT, your risk for blood clots will always be higher. The following can help lower your risk:
- Take medicines as directed. Your healthcare provider may recommend blood thinners and other medicines to help prevent blood clots. It is important not to skip doses. The medicine may not be able to prevent blood clots if the amount in your blood goes too low.
- Wear pressure stockings as directed. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. This improves blood flow and helps prevent clots. Wear the stockings during the day. Do not wear them when you sleep. Your healthcare provider will tell you how long you need to keep using the stockings.
- Get up and move as directed after surgery or an injury, or during an illness. Early and regular movement can help decrease your risk for a DVT by helping to increase your blood flow. Ask your healthcare provider what type of activity you need and how often you should do it.
Follow up with your doctor or hematologist as directed:
You may need to come in regularly for scans to check for blood clots. Your blood may checked to see how long it takes to clot. Your doctor or specialist will tell you if you need to have this test and how often to have it. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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