5 Simple Behaviors That Help Prevent Blood Clots

Photo by: Gruff15 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by: Gruff15 via Wikimedia Commons

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!


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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34 Responses to 5 Simple Behaviors That Help Prevent Blood Clots

  1. laramcgill says:

    Jenny, I just linked back to your “What Gluten Did To My Body” post. Someone suggested that you and Kristen and another person (I’m not familiar with that individual) go on Dr. Oz.

    I’m pretty sure that Dr. Oz has a section for suggestions for upcoming shows. I’m seriously considering throwing your name and Kristen’s into the ring. Would you be willing to let me do that? Gluten is much more critical than most people realize.

    I’ve really cut mine way down (except yesterday when I had a Whopper Jr.) and I just made the energy connection last night when I had to force myself to go to bed at midnight. I had too much energy to sleep.

    Anyway, think about it. We’re all so proud of you and Kristen.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      How sweet are you, Lara??!! Can you just imagine Kristen and I on Dr. Oz? That show would likely never be the same. But at least the world would find out what kind of undies the Oz-Man wears. 🙂


  2. laramcgill says:

    Crap. I just went over to Dr. Oz’s site and although there is a place for upcoming shows, it’s pretty limited area-wise, and their producers have already chosen the topics.

    I think they need some sort of shout-out.


  3. I’ve had back problems since I was a kid (consequence of one too many falls from horses), so I have to put my feet up or I’m incredibly uncomfortable. This is problematic for when I’m anywhere like church, the movie theater, or a conference where there isn’t a way for me to elevate my legs, but I’m happy to know that I’m already doing something that will reduce my risk of blood clots.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ouch, Marcy! It’s too bad you’re not Catholic, you could elevate your feet on the kneelers. 🙂 Also, have you thought of carrying a collapsing camp stool? You might be able to fit the fold up ones into your conference bag, or carry it down your back/shoulder like a purse. I’m a huge fan of solutions that keep you from hurting!

      Sample: This one is 9 lbs but I’ll bet you can find lighter, smaller ones:


  4. Hi Jenny! Thank you for the amazing advice on how to prevent blood clots! I’m printing this article up, too, and posting here in the office (and this one is definitely going up on my wall in the writing cave). Thank you, thank you, again, Jenny! 😀


  5. filbio says:

    More great info here on how to prevent blood clots. I fly a lot and also make it a habit to get up and walk a bit or stretch when on long flights.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Wonderful to know, Phil! Now if you get some compression socks for the plane ride and drink more water pre-flight, Mama Jen will stop worrying about you. 🙂


  6. I’m always trying to decrease the inflammation in my body. RA makes sure there is always some to bother my joints! Never heard of Apple Cider Vinegar – I’ll have to try it! Thanks again for such important information! 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I highly recommend the Bragg’s. It’s raw and unfiltered and it works better. I always joke that it tastes like @$$, but it certainly does the trick. 🙂


  7. Awesome tips, Jenny, thank you so much! You totally rock!


  8. Pingback: The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . The Underwear Flask & the Wine Rack Bra « Bayard & Holmes

  9. GREAT post. Thank you. I really need to stop crossing my legs. I have more spider veins because of it too!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re right, Tiffany. I didn’t start to put that together when my first spider vein showed up at 29, but since I stopped crossing my legs, I haven’t developed any more. *pumps fist*


  10. It’s so ironic that I discovered I’d lost enough weight that I could cross my legs (for the first time in nearly two decades) about six weeks ago. That said, I’ve done it exactly twice, because I noticed some tingling after a while, and intuition said, “Uncross!” Now that you’re echoing intuition, I’ll keep them uncrossed.
    Thank you again for the excellent information. Guess who’ll be wearing compression hose the next time she goes on a 10-hour road trip? 🙂


    • Oh! Oh! Oh! And the inflammation piece: my diet (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, unsweetened non-dairy milk) is a tailor-made anti-inflammatory. Satisfying discovery, I don’t mind admitting. 😀


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Good girl! And plan to try a few different kinds of compression hose. Some people prefer the toes to bellybutton for long trips (I’m one of them) and others want knee-hi and thigh-hi. It’s a personal preference.

      One thing, since black is a hard color to find in the full length compression hose, I often buy ugly colors (they’re way cheaper) and then wear black nylons over them. All this nonsense under my clothes does preclude me from wearing skirts anymore to work, which I miss.


  11. K.B. Owen says:

    Great advice! A couple of questions, Jenny:

    1. why drink a gallon of water before flying? Does airplane travel have a dehydrating effect?
    2. is lemon bad for you, and that’s why you switched to lime? (say it ain’t so!)



    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Airplanes are extremely dehydrating. So, yes, that’s why.

      And lemon isn’t bad for you at all, it just doesn’t have the same alkaline ability in your body. Lime literally lowers inflammation. Lemon just tastes good and gives you vitamins. 🙂


  12. Cory Imhof says:

    Another tip is to lay on the floor or bed or couch with your feet elevated up agains the wall for 15 minutes. This allows blood that has pooled to flow more easily back toward your heart it also takes pressure off your low back.
    When you get a pedicure throw the gals an extra tip to really massage your legs (shave first for their sake) to push blood and fluid back up. A massage therapist can get a lot of work done on your legs in just a short 30 minute appointment. Many doctors and chiropractors can write you a referral for massage to your legs and low back.
    Another green to add to your diet is seaweed and kelp. You can eat it straight or enjoy seaweed salad, throw kelp powder into your smoothies. It’s yummy, call me crazy but its great.


  13. Still loving all of this information. 🙂

    I’m pretty sure that slapping the snot out of rude people at the grocery store…or slamming my cart into them really hard…would reduce both stress and inflammation levels for me but, alas, there are laws against that in Michigan. Which wouldn’t be so bad if there were also laws against rudeness and stupidity, but….what can I say? I’ve had to look elsewhere for ways to reduce unhealthy things in my life. And none of them involve violence or prison sentences. Win/win, I suppose.

    That said, I have been making a huge effort in most areas of my life. Since my doctor isn’t as cool or open minded as your doctor, I’m just tired all the time because of the thyroid, and so I’ve been spending a huge majority of my time researching for the past few weeks. I’ve been taking 2-5 grams of vitamin C for almost two years, which is supposed to help reduce inflammation. I’ve also been reading a lot by Dr. David Brownstein, and I’m impressed with the things he has to say, especially regarding unrefined Celtic sea salt. Among the many great benefits from real salt with sorely needed minerals, it’s also supposed to help with inflammation.

    Here’s hoping I can kiss my thyroid medication away like you did. 🙂


  14. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Great info, Jenny. Thanks for the tips. It’s tough wearing compression hose in the summer, isn’t it? I have you to thank for suggesting compression hose to keep my legs from swelling. I bought mine at CVS. They’re the Miracle Socks (I think that’s the name) advertised on TV. They’re knee high. Toe to bellybutton must be even hotter, but if they prevent clots, then that’s what matters. I hope you never deal with another blood clot.

    I’ve been juicing lately and add lots of green leafy veggies in my shakes. My mom mentioned that kale causes her blood to thicken, so she has to be careful not to eat too many green leafy veggies. It’s all a juggling act, it seems like. Crazy.


  15. Ever since reading this I have been super aware of how often I cross my legs! Is it okay to cross at the ankle?


  16. Hi Jenny, I came across your page from Kitt, and I was elated to come across another person who has DVT. I was diagnosed and hospitalized this past Feb. My left leg from my upper thigh down to my ankle was riddled with clots, and my leg swelled nearly three times in size and took close to six weeks to return to normal. This has been a life changing experience for me in many ways, and if I had to do it over, i would as this made me look closely at my life and changes that obviously I was in denial of. When were you first diagnosed with DVT? I am please to see that I am not alone in my daily struggles.with DVT and maintaining my INR. I’m glad to have found your page.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Clarissa, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had suck issues with clotting! It’s suckitude, isn’t it? When you get to the other side of this episode, they will test you for a clotting disorder, I guarantee it. I’ll be interested to hear what the results are. Do you have any questions?


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