Venous Thromboembolism Preventing Blood Clots
If you are preparing to go to the hospital for a procedure or have other risk factors for venous thromboembolism, talk with your doctor about a plan for preventing blood clots from forming.
Doctors may suggest three ways to help prevent venous thromboembolism (VTE).
- Keep moving. Helping your blood circulate makes it harder for clots to form. Your doctor may recommend that you move around as soon as possible after surgery and as you heal. If you cannot get up and walk, try to flex and stretch your feet to improve blood flow in your calves.
- Apply pressure. Gentle pressure keeps blood from pooling and clotting. Your doctor may recommend applying pressure — for example, by wearing a sleeve or boot that periodically fills with air or by wearing graduated compression stockings, which apply more pressure around the ankles and feet.
- Take blood thinner medicines (anticoagulants). Anticoagulants such as heparin (which can be injected) and warfarin (which you take by mouth) are also used to treat VTE. Sometimes this preventive therapy starts before surgery. Or you may be asked to take a blood thinner during your recovery period at home.
Your doctor may recommend some combination of these preventive treatments for a month or more after surgery. These approaches to prevention may also be appropriate if you are admitted to the hospital for reasons other than surgery, cannot move for an extended period, or have a condition that makes it more likely that your blood will clot.