Do you have to sit for long periods of time at work or while traveling? You might be at risk of a blood clot forming in your veins, or deep vein thrombosis.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that the danger is that the clot can travel through the veins to the lungs and block blood flow, which is called a pulmonary embolism. Clots also can cause the blood in the heart to back up and potentially can be deadly.
Pfizer Chief Medical Officer Freda Lewis-Hall explains that veins rely on muscle movement or compression to return blood to the heart. If that muscle stops squeezing, a blood clot can form.
People who are at increased risk of developing blood clots include those who are obese, have a family history of blood clots, smoke, take birth control pills or are pregnant. People who recently have had surgery, have cancer or broken bones also are at increased risk.
Symptoms include sudden swelling of one leg, unexplained pain or tenderness of lower leg or calf muscle, changes in skin color and skin that is warm to the touch. If the clot travels to the legs, you might experience shortness of breath, chest pain or cough up blood.
If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
As a precaution, you can take a non-invasive test using ultrasound to check the blood flow through the veins. You also can wear compression boots during or after surgery.
To help reduce your risk of blood clots in the veins, you should exercise regularly, and if seated for a long time, you should do exercises, such as circling your feet, pumping your calf muscles or bending your knees, every half hour.
Sponsored by Pfizer.