Part 1 of this series was the 5 Important “Big Picture” things you need to know about blood clots.
Part 2 is all about prevention.
I’ve specifically called out the most risky everyday behaviors that we all do so you can be aware of them, and maybe even change some of them over time.
#1 – If you sit, drive or fly for long periods wear compression hose!
I warn you, most of these are seriously unattractive, but they are getting better (especially for men). Compression socks/hose can be purchased in any medical supply store but now they’re also available on Amazon if you want them to come right to your door.
Any of you who see me at conferences or work? I always have “toes to bellybutton” compression hose on. It’s too painful for me to sit or drive for more than 20 minutes without them. It’s like someone is pouring hot acid down the inside of the veins in my legs.
(You see why you want to prevent blood clots?? They freaking hurt.)
Important note: If you’re traveling or having surgery, you need to increase your water intake before you do so.
In fact, I’ll just give you an example of how flying works for me these days:
The day before I fly, I drink a gallon of water. No exceptions. I hate it. But I do it so I can be safe. I also:
- Walk for 30 mins in the airport before I get on the plane.
- Take a 20 ounce bottle of water onto the plane.
- Drink only water and no alcohol on the flight.
- Get up and walk the aisle every 30-40 minutes.
- Bounce on my toes in the back of the plane while I wait for the restroom.
- Do these exercises in transit to prevent blood clots from forming.
Oh yeah…I just adore flying these days. It’s not the TSA grope I dread, it’s the DVT prevention. (Click here for Bayard & Holmes’ advice on how to make those TSA gropes more exciting!)
#2 – Keep your feet up as much as you can.
I have a huge box of paper under my desk. Not because I need 80 pounds of paper, but so I can put my legs up while I work.
Most importantly, keep the back of your legs from pressing against hard edges. If factors like smoking, being on the Pill or sitting for long periods are part of your daily living, you are more likely to get a blood clot, even before you add any of the other risk factors.
#3 – Exercise regularly.
Jump rope for a few minutes a couple times a day, walk for 15 minutes in the morning, bounce on a trampoline. I don’t care what you do, as long as you make the blood in your legs flow vigorously multiple times every day. Most people recommend taking a quick stroll every hour.
Your life is at stake here. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.
#4 – A glass of wine, particularly red, a few times a week is a good thing.
I’m not saying “booze it up,” especially if you have a problem with alcohol. But a periodic glass of red wine has been shown in studies to lower your cholesterol and inflammation and to prevent the development of blood clots.
Alcohol thins your blood, so I try to make sure I have a glass if I’m eating a lot of foods that are high in Vitamin K.
#5 – Lower the levels of inflammation in your body.
This one’s a doozy and no one talks about it.
Chronic, low-level inflammation is one of the top ten causes of death in America and leads to the development of at least 7 of the other top 10 causes of death. Chronic inflammation can be triggered by cellular stress and dysfunction, such as excessive calorie consumption and elevated blood sugar levels.
Lowering your intake of processed food and refined sugars will decrease your inflammation, as will discovering and treating any food allergies you might have.
Speaking of food allergies, click here to read about what gluten did to my body (I didn’t know I’m extremely gluten-intolerant until last year). The #1 thing gluten did was inflame me. It also swelled me up, stiffened my joints, raised my cholesterol and knocked out my thyroid.
I use many dietary methods, such as using lime (rather than lemon) and drinking apple cider vinegar, to lower my body’s inflammation levels.
The most ironic thing is that leafy green vegetables, although they thicken your blood, also lower the inflammation in your body. Here are 8 additional lifestyle changes that will lower your body’s inflammation.
Note on Factor V Leiden: According to my high-risk OB, the clotting disorder I have (pronouned “Factor Five”) is about 15% prevalent in people of Norwegian descent, 5-8% in Caucasians, 3-5% in people of Latin origin, less than 3% in African-Americans and almost non-existent in people of Asian descent.
Last of all, here’s a bonus easy behavior change for the ladies:
Stop crossing your legs!!
I know, I know…
It’s habit…it makes your thighs look skinnier…it’s more lady-like.
Who cares about those things if they give you a blood clot?? Maybe back in the day when people walked everywhere, women could cross their legs and dangle a high-heel from their toe, looking like a sexy dame from a Mickey Spillane novel.
Nowadays? Not so much. Most of us have very sedentary jobs where we sit down a lot. Must you cross your legs too?
Hubby and I both want to scream when we watch women cross their legs, squeezing the large veins in their thighs and behind the knees, and cutting off their blood flow.
Note: if you wait tables or guide nature tours for a living, you’re welcome to ignore this suggestion and swing that high-heel from your toe any time you want.
That’s the highlights of what I know about blood clots and how to prevent them. It would have taken longer than my sweet cousin had time for me to tell her all this, so I’m putting it in a series of posts for all of you.
May it save some lives and some angst for even one person here in the blogosphere…
Do you have questions? Are there other behavior changes you know of that you’d like to share? What are your tricks for lowering inflammation in the body? Enquiring minds need to know these things here at More Cowbell!