PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Hospital care often involves prevention of DVT. There are also precautions you can take yourself.
Preventive steps in the hospital
Clot prevention strategies in the hospital may include:
- Anticoagulant therapy. An anticoagulant, such as a heparin injection, is given to anyone at risk of clots before and after an operation — as well as to people admitted to the hospital with a heart attack, stroke, complications of cancer or burns. You might take oral warfarin for a few days before major elective surgery to reduce your risk of clots.
- Graduated compression stockings. Compression stockings steadily squeeze your legs, helping your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. They offer a safe, simple and inexpensive way to keep blood from stagnating after general surgery.
- Use of pneumatic compression. This treatment uses thigh-high or calf-high cuffs that automatically inflate with air every few minutes to massage and squeeze the veins in your legs and improve blood flow.
- Physical activity. Moving as soon as possible after surgery can help prevent pulmonary embolism and speed your overall recovery. This is one of the main reasons your nurse may push you to get up and walk as soon as one day after surgery.
Preventive steps while traveling
Sitting during a long flight or automobile ride increases your risk of developing blood clots in the veins of your legs. To help prevent a blood clot from forming:
- Take a walk. Move around the airplane cabin once an hour or so. If you're driving, stop every hour and walk around the car a couple of times. Do a few deep knee bends.
- Exercise while you sit. Flex, extend and rotate your ankles or press your feet against the seat in front of you, or try rising up and down on your toes. And don't sit with your legs crossed for long periods of time.
- Wear support stockings. The firm, even pressure these stockings exert helps keep blood from pooling in deep veins. You can use a device called a stocking butler to help you put on support stockings.
- Administer a dose of heparin, if recommended by your doctor. If you have a history of DVT or VTE, talk with your doctor before a long trip. He or she may tell you to self-inject a long-acting dose of heparin just before traveling. Your doctor will also tell you whether you need to repeat the dose for your return trip.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best liquid for preventing dehydration, which can contribute to the development of blood clots. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which contribute to fluid loss.
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