5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of a Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary embolism, or PE, is a serious condition that occurs when an artery carrying blood to your lungs from your heart is blocked. When this happens, a blood clot forms down deep inside a vein, usually in your leg. When this happens, you have a DVT or deep vein thrombosis, and if that clots breaks away and travels into your lungs, your blood flow can be blocked causing a pulmonary embolism.
If you want to prevent PE, then you need to stop the blood clots from forming. It can be a challenge, especially if you have had a recent illness or surgery, or find yourself on a long flight. This is due to the formation of DVTs after long periods of immobility. For those that find themselves at risk, here are five things you can do to reduce your chances of forming a dangerous blood clot.
- Blood Thinners
Called an anticoagulant, a blood thinner will keep your blood from developing clots. You may have them prescribed to you after surgery when you are in the hospital, and even after you have been sent home. You may also be prescribed a blood thinner if you have recently had a heart attack or stroke, or even after having complications from cancer.
- Compression Stockings
You may be familiar with those socks that compress your legs. With that extra pressure, through your leg muscles and veins. You will often find that they are recommended after you have surgery or suffer from poor ciruclation.
- IVC Filters
When blood thinners do not work, an IVC filter can be placed inside your inferior vena cava to stop blood clots from traveling through your blood and into your lungs. Taking about 30 minutes, filters for IVC can be placed inside you by an interventional radiologist that specializes in image-guided procedures.
- Stretch When Traveling
If you happen to be driving when traveling, stop the car once an hour so that you can stretch your legs. Also, remember to drink a lot of fluids so that you can stay hydrated. Anytime you find yourself on an airplane, it important to get up to walk and stretch every 30 minutes. In case you can’t stand up, try to flex your ankle by pulling your toes toward you. Another stretch that you can do when you are seated on an airplane is pulling your leg up to your chest using one hand. Then, hold the bottom of your leg with your opposite hand for 15 seconds. Do the same movement with your other leg and repeat this exercise at least 10 times each hour.
- Changes in Your Lifestyle
While exercise is important, you should also make a few lifestyle changes. Try to sustain a healthy weight, and, if you smoke, you need to quit. For those that are taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control, have a conversation with your doctor about your blood clot risk, and, if you have heart failure or diabetes, make sure to take your medication and eat healthily. Always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle, and speak with your physician if your family has a history of blood clots, or if you have a history of autoimmune or kidney disease.
Lowering your risk for a pulmonary embolism is easy if you talk to your doctor if you think you are at risk for developing one. Take blood thinners if your doctor prescribes them to you. Wear compression stockings to keep your blood circulating in your legs. Make sure you don’t sit for extended periods of time without getting up to move and stretch. And always make sure you keep a healthy and physically active live style to keep your risk of a PE down.