Get Moving to Prevent Blood Clots
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Blood clots help to stop bleeding at injury sites. However, blood clots can also form when they are not needed. It can happen when blood pools because of injuries, surgery, or periods of inactivity. These clots can block blood flow in the area, most often legs. They can also break off and cause serious problems in vital organs like the heart, lungs, or brains.
The good news is that there is a very simple tool to prevent blood clots, just move. Here’s how to get started.
Know Your Risk
Blood clots happen when you are not active. Your activity level may be low if you are:
Keep Clots from Forming
Clots form when blood flow slows. This allows blood to pool and clots to form. Blood flow increases when you are active. This forces blood to keep moving and makes it hard for unneeded clots to form. Regular activity is best but even short walks throughout the day can help. Activity that can help includes:
Signs of a Problem
Some people with blood clots do not have any signs. Call your doctor right away if you have:
American Lung Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Blood clot risk and what you can do. National Blood Clot Alliance website. Available at: https://www.stoptheclot.org/learn_more/dvt/. Accessed May 7, 2019.
Information for patients about blood clot prevention. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/armstrong_institute/improvement_projects/infections_complications/VTE/patients.html. Accessed May 7, 2019.
Understanding your risk for excessive blood clotting. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/venous-thromboembolism/understand-your-risk-for-excessive-blood-clotting. Accessed May 7, 2019.
Your guide to preventing and treating blood clots. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: https://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/prevention/disease/bloodclots.html#symptoms. Updated August 2017. Accessed May 7, 2019.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Peter Oettgen, MD
Last Updated: 10/15/2019
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