5 Lifesaving Things To Know About Blood Clots

Photo by: Gruff15 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by: Gruff15 via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to Thoughty Thursday here at More Cowbell! This is the day of the week when y’all get to be privy to whatever thoughts are swimming around my brain.

Today I’m thinking about blood clots, of all things.

I received a call from my cousin yesterday and she’s got DVT (that’s deep vein thrombosis) in her right leg. Gah! She’s not even 40 years old.

Why did she reach out to me, you might ask? (Besides that I’m one of her fave peeps?)

Well, I’m kind of the blood clot expert amongst my family and friends. And no, I’m not a doctor; this is all hands-on learning, if you know what I mean.

My cousin called because I’ve had scads of blood clots (one in each leg [called bilateral DVT] and about 50 in my lungs [called pulmonary embolism]). I always joke that “my platelets really like to get their love on.”

For those of you who are newer here, you might not know I have a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. I found out that fun little fact when I GOT the blood clots.

Before y’all freak, I’m fine. I’m not going to keel over tomorrow. Probably. *kidding*

Clotting disorders can be managed quite easily, as is evidenced by the fact that I’ve not had another one since the first incident back in 2005. Still, as I chatted with my cousin, it occurred to me that I have a metric ton of blood clot prevention info stored up in my brain.

I’m sharing it with my More Cowbell Posse because…

Anyone can get a blood clot.

Seriously. You don’t have to be hypercoagulent like me to develop them. In fact, when I got all my pesky clots, I was 37 years old and did kickboxing three times a week.

But I was engaging in some risky blood clot behavior:

  • Sitting long hours at a desk.
  • Drinking lots of coffee and not enough water.
  • Taking birth control pills.
  • Stressing out about a crazy work project.
  • I’d just put on a 5-10 pounds from the Pill and the aforementioned project.
  • I sat most of those long hours in a cold room with air conditioning blowing on me.
  • As a result, I was dehydrated.

Sound familiar?? That could describe the life of any writer or computer programmer.

Because the above behaviors are pretty normal, Americans are at an increased risk these days to develop a blood clot. However, just because anyone can get a blood clot doesn’t mean anyone will. Unlike mine, your #5 gene is likely normal.

There are many things you can learn and do to decrease the likelihood of a blood clot. That’s what this post is about. Consider it my public service for the year.

I think this information is so important I’m doing this post in two parts:

  • Part 1 (today) has the macro things you should know.
  • In tomorrow’s Part 2, I’ll discuss specific (and easy) behavior changes you can make.

This series is about knowledge and prevention.

Here are 5 Things YOU should know about blood clots:

#1 – What causes them?

There a few short-term causes for blood clots like smoking, taking the Pill, and surgery, but here are the top four most common risk factors:

For women, the 5th most common risk factor is pregnancy, since the body creates an extra FOUR POUNDS of blood over the course of nine months. (Can we say “pregnancy glow?”). Also, the weight of the baby pressing on veins in the pelvis can slow blood return from the legs.

Clots are more likely to form when blood slows or pools, like when you’re sitting long periods in a chair or traveling long distances in a car or plane.

For most of you, your blood clot risks are VERY preventable. Of those big four up there, you may only ever have obesity or cancer.

#2 – Stay hydrated — like REALLY hydrated

Believe it or not, this is the hardest one for me. I am not a happy water drinker. But how much water do you really need?

Those recommended 8 glasses of water a day are the minimum. Really, that’s only 64 ounces. The easy formula for your total water intake each day is: halve your weight and drink that number of ounces of water. So, a 200 pound man would need 100 ounces of water a day. A 140 pound woman would need 70 ounces.

My motto is: Drink enough to make your pee-pee clear and be done with it.

#3 – Be aware of foods high in Vitamin K

Vitamin K is very, very good for you but people with any of the four risk factors need to be aware of what it does and how much of it they ingest through their food.

In the body, vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting. Since it thickens the blood, it’s often used to reverse the effects of “blood thinning” medications like Coumadin when the dosage is too high. If you have a clotting disorder, it’s imperative you be aware of your Vitamin K consumption. The kicker is these foods are really good for you too.

The highest dose Vitamin K foods are green leafy vegetables. Believe it or not, oatmeal and cheddar cheese are also high in Vitamin K. If you’re already on a blood thinner, this link should help.

Conversely, you should be aware of the foods most likely to prevent blood clots. Garlic, ginger, fish oils, flax seeds, peppermint and cinnamon are all staples for me because they help my body naturally prevent blood clots. Plus, most of ’em keep my platelets slippery.

#4 – An aspirin a day really does help keep the doctor away

I’m talking about baby aspirin here. Taking a full adult aspirin (about 325 mg) daily should only be done at the advice of a doctor.

However, aspirin is an anti-coagulent and I do take at least one baby aspirin every day. If you’ve had a blood clot or are at high risk of one, your doctor probably already told you to take fish oil and baby aspirin daily.

Note: if you’re on an anti-coagulent medication DO NOT take aspirin.

#5 – Change behaviors that increase the likelihood of a blood clot

There are simple daily things you can do and behaviors you can modify to decrease your chances of developing a blood clot. I’m discussing them tomorrow in Part 2.

Do you have any personal experience with blood clots? What’s your story? Do you have questions? Are there other pieces of “macro” knowledge you’d like to share? Enquiring minds need to know these things here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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54 Responses to 5 Lifesaving Things To Know About Blood Clots

  1. Wow! Thank you for the information and tips today, Jenny! I’m printing and posting here in our office because most of us do end up sitting at our computers for hours at a time. This will be a good reminder for all of us to get up every hour and do a lap around the office. Thank you again! 😀


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You are very wise, Melinda! Tomorrow’s Part 2 will be an eye-opener for your peeps, as I’m very specific about some easy prevention behaviors. 🙂

      Thanks for spreading the word!!


  2. Reblogged this on Whole Woman Network and commented:
    An interesting piece. Take action towards a Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier YOU!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks so much! Ladies have all sorts of extra blood clot risk, so I’m delighted that you re-blogged this. I get very specific in tomorrow’s post. 🙂


  3. This is great information especially as we all sit in front our computers reading it! Sorry that you have to deal with this – it seems like you have it under control and do all the things you need to do. I know platelets. They are tricky little suckers, aren’t they? I have Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura which is a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys the platelets – so my blood does not clot when it should! I had my spleen removed and that helped and Prednisone is my friend! Now that my platelet count is normal, I need to do the things you have listed above to avoid a clot! Why is it so difficult to drink water??? Great post!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Kathy has some great tips on water below. I tend to put lime or citrus in mine to make it more palatable, but I just don’t love water. I wish I did…

      Wow, I’ve heard of yours and it sounds wicked. Big congratulations on that normal platelet count!! You’ll want to comb through the lists of food I’ve linked to…makes a huge difference. Your daily prednisone stays under 10 mg, right?


      • Thanks! My prednisone dosage changes often. I’ve been on it for 25 years now. I definitely try to keep it under 10mgs. Depending on my platelet count and my joint pain. Boy do I sound like an old lady!!! Thanks for all the great information, Jenny! 🙂


        • Jenny Hansen says:

          You’re welcome! The only reason why I know so much about Prednisone is my mom had adult-onset asthma. She also had poor medical management and, at one point, was up to 80 mg of Prednisone a day. 😦


  4. Blood clots are evil! I’m glad to hear that you have your condition under control. Years ago, my mother-in-law was involved in a bad car accident that caused extensive bruising on her torso. Two weeks later she was in emergency surgery to have her leg amputated because a blood clot stopped all blood flow to it. They were actually able to save her leg, thank goodness, but now she’s also on aspirin, and every so often has to go back on Coumadin. And her leg has terrible scarring on both sides of it from the surgery. I hope NO ONE has to go through what she did.


  5. K.B. Owen says:

    Really important info, Jenny! I try to drink a lot – mostly a green/black tea blend, to cut down on the caffeine, but plain water? Bleh. Then I found these little packets of powdered lemon (there’s no sweetener of any kind in it – just lemon) at the grocery store. It’s called “True Lemon.” I love the stuff – it’s so handy when you order iced tea somewhere but they are out of lemon or never carry it (yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Starbucks). I’ve discovered that putting a packet of True Lemon in my water makes it WAY more palatable! Also, those flavored (but no sugar or artificial sweetener) seltzer waters are a great way to get more fluids, too.


  6. Holy moly, Jenny. The things I learn. Great timing and information. I spend smaller chunks of time at my desk these days, and make a point to get up and move around. The weight… Well, it’s coming off at a good rate, so that risk factor is an ever-diminishing one. I’m going to ask my cardiologist about baby aspirin.


  7. aerobabe619 says:

    Jenny,you don’t know how happy i am to see a article written about this subject,my dad suffered so bad from this,he almost died 3 times.they had to put an umbrella in his chest,now with my left leg paralyzed it is a own going crisis for me, Nothing worse than a immobile leg. I get daily checks behind my knee.they kill in an instant. I lost my poppa to cancer.But we all knew it would be the clots one day.Blessings ..your friend Cheri


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m so glad you’re able to check your knee daily! I’ve never swelled as much as I did when I couldn’t move around. Also, I’m sorry you lost your poppa… My mama went way too young as well.


      • aerobabe619 says:

        Thank you Jenny, And i feel you deserve a award your writing is outstanding.Love your work.I’m so sorry for the loss of your momma.I guess you would say,i lost mine at 5.She didn’t want me,and sent me to a aunt.now she is 73,i forgave her ages ago,but still…looking forward to more of your wonderful stories


  8. Wow, great post Jenny! Thank you for bringing such a common health danger to my attention. I’ve never really considered my risk of developing clots. But seeing as I do sit in front of the computer for long periods each day, usually reach for coffee or a diet coke instead of water, and have gained some weight over the past year it certainly is something to seriously consider. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post. Thanks again 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re welcome. I’m living proof (thank God) that’s it’s easy to forget, especially for those of us that spend a lot of time focusing on our work.


  9. My significant other got a condition called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome a few years ago, as a result of having several days of high fever. It stimulated an autoimmune response that causes rapid clotting. Luckily, he got a very painful clot in his back, and had me take him to the emergency room. It took three visits and blood work showing crazy vitamin K levels before they did an MRI and found clots in his kidneys. Over the next few days, he developed a pulmonary embolism, a clot sitting just above his heart and more clots throughout his body. He nearly died before they got the clotting under control. He didn’t know it before this incident, but he is a sickle cell carrier, and that makes his blood a little weird. His son later had to have his spleen removed when he went to Peru.
    I’ve also had a massage client with a blood clot in his leg. In both examples, the early symptoms were pain and strange muscle spasms with twitching. I know that people don’t always have any symptoms, but if those appear it’s a good idea to go to the doctor (the other time I saw them, the client had kidney cancer).


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s scary for you guys, Ann! But very fascinating to hear about since he survived. That is so very hard to deal with at the time because you never know what a blood clot is going to do.

      My doctor calls me “his one-percenter” because only 1% of those who have what I had live through it. I figure that’s because there are things I need to be doing. It’s likely the same with your honey. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Eden says:

    I second Kathy’s suggestion of True Lemon (though for some reason it’s gotten really hard to find around my area 😦 ). There is also True Lime and True Orange… (Try using a bit of stevia sweetener in a 32oz jar and adding two packets True Lime and one True Lemon for a nice low calorie limeade, YUM!)

    A reminder about heart disease here… A lot of strokes are a result of clogged arteries and blood clots mixing badly (my family has a serious issue with strokes).

    Thanks for posting this, Jenny. Hugs to you and your cousin.


  11. Phil says:

    This is such terrific information Jenny! I am guilty of not drinking enough water, and with all the training I am doing now it is a must! Also, my relatives in the health field always tell me to take a baby aspirin to help with the blood as we get older. Great post!


  12. Piper Bayard says:

    Thanks so much for the important info, Jenny! You’ve inspired me to drink a glass of water and go take a walk. I had no idea this was so common!


  13. I definitely do WAY TOO MUCH desk sitting. But I’m glad that over the past few years, I’ve switched from drinking too much Vernor’s (the best ginger ale ever) to drinking water 99% of the time. Some days though, I don’t drink enough, and usually aim for 3 bottles a day, which is only 60 ounces. Yikes. Gotta do better on that.

    What helped me in the beginning was coconut extract (I know a Watkins distributor). A couple of drops of that and it gave the water a hint of a creme soda flavor. But it wasn’t long before I just preferred the plain water. Sometimes I’ll still get on a Vernor’s kick, but usually when I want something different, I use unsweetened Kool-aid powder with some stevia, and that does the trick. Sometimes I even use carbonated water, but usually not. (A quick off subject note here…replace half of your milk with carbonated water to biscuits makes them better…even the gluten free ones I have to eat now.)

    The sitting too much has been worrying me for some time now, and a few weeks ago I started a Facebook group called 5 For Fitness for people interested in trying to make a conscious effort to get up and move for 5 minutes every waking hour…or at least as often as they could. LOL…after a couple of weeks I kind of hit a wall and just felt drained (NOT from that). Fortunately it’s resolving itself, and I’m moving a little more again. I’ve read too many times that moving every hour is better for you than walking for 30 -60 minutes once a day, so it seemed like a great idea.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post. 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Kristy, you’ve made some GREAT lifestyle changes, and that’s not easy. It seem like nothing drains a gal like the trifecta of thyroid, hormonal changes and or depression. And they all seem to hit between 40-50. Gah! I figure it’s best to try to get ahead of it as much as possible, so GOOD FOR YOU. 🙂


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  15. Cory Imhof says:

    If you sit at a desk all day do heal lifts and butt scrunched while extending your kegs out underneath at your desk to keep the blood pumping through your lower extremities. In your arms and legs you need muscle contraction to push the blood back to the heart through your veins. Veins have thin less elastic walls with one way gates inside them to keep blood flowing one direction. Over time those veinous walks atrophy and the gates sag allowing blood to pool and possibly clot. It is vital that you take high dose fish oils, vitamin E is good in addition but not instead of fish oils. Put garlic in everything and fresh mint in your water. I love getting pure Mint extract/ essence in the health food section and drinking it in water before bed. Not only does it help with clots but it is soothing to the mucosal lining if the digestive tract and can help with indigestion at night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You know I’m sitting her bouncing on my butt like a little girl now, right? It’s a little embarrassing, but it feels kinda good, like maybe it’s gonna perk my booty up an inch or two. 🙂


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  17. susielindau says:

    This is so timely for me since I will be starting Tamoxifen on July 1st. It can cause clots like birth control. I am walking a lot as part of my recovery and had planned to continue while adding bike riding and tennis.
    I had no idea oatmeal and cheddar cheese were clotting bullies! I can see how oatmeal would clot anything now that you mention it. I will avoid them. That means no granola either. Bummer….
    I would guess that taking Ibuprophen has some thinning properties since it has aspirin in it. I had to avoid it before surgery along with vitamin E and fish oil.
    Thanks for the tips!


  18. Reetta Raitanen says:

    Your Thoughty Thursdays rock and this is a really important topic. I was surprised to learn how common clotting is. Scary stuff. I drink a lot since I have a mug full of water beside me at work. But it’s likely offset by 8 hours of sitting. I need to remember micro breaks and stretching. And taking the stairs instead of using the elevator.


  19. Thank you, Jenny, for writing this up so we could all benefit from it! I really need to sit less. :}


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