Blood clots typically occur in the large veins of the legs but also can form in the arms and upper body. Also called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, blood clots prevent normal blood flow and can cause swelling and pain at the location of the clot. Occasionally a blood clot can travel to other parts of the body and cause interruption of blood flow to the brain, heart or lungs. The affects of a blood clot can be fatal. Therefore, it is best to take measures to prevent them from forming.
A number of factors can place you at risk for blood clot formation. Blood clots can form as a result of recent surgery, cigarette smoking, fractures, obesity, heart disease, cancer, hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, family history and sitting for long periods of time such as when traveling. Blood clots can occur at any age but occur most often in people over age 60.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of a blood clot include pain, tenderness and redness at the site of the clot. The area may by swollen and warm to touch. A physician will diagnose a blood clot considering factors such as family history, medications, recent activities and physical examination of the site. Blood tests, an ultrasound or an X-ray also may be used to confirm a blood clot.
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking can help prevent blood clot formation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, drinking plenty of water, taking walking breaks and performing sitting exercises such as neck, shoulder and ankle rolls enhance blood flow and reduce the likelihood of clot formation. Those who have a history of blood clot formation or are at high risk may need to take blood thinners or wear pressure stockings prescribed by their physician.
According to the Inate website, movement soon after blood clot treatment helps relieve symptoms and improves recovery time. Exercise should be supervised and can include normal walking for short distances. The level of exercise depends on the symptoms exhibited at the time the blood clot was identified and level of treatment initiated. For example, if you are experiencing difficulty breathing or cannot take blood thinners, exercise may be contraindicated.