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How To Prevent Blood Clots While Sleeping

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Solution For Side Sleepers

How to Prevent Blood Clots While Flying

Snoozing on your side as a side sleeper who needs leg elevation can present an issue, as this isnt an ideal position for elevating legs. Elevating legs too much while resting on your side could affect your spine, creating more discomfort, so its essential to take a gentle approach before you find a solution that works.

A way around this issue is by using folded-up blankets instead of pillows. Blankets could be folded up so that you can adjust the height to suit your needs. Additionally, a leg elevation pillow could provide an excellent solution, as they are created specifically for the purpose of raising ones legs.

Symptoms Of A Blood Clot

You may have a blood clot if you see or feel:

  • New swelling in your arm or leg.
  • Skin redness.
  • Soreness or pain in your arm or leg.
  • A warm spot on your leg.


If you think you have a blood clot, call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away!

Blood clots can be dangerous. Blood clots that form in the veins in your legs, arms, and groin can break loose and move to other parts of your body, including your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs is called a pulmonary embolism . If this happens, your life can be in danger. Go to the emergency room or call 911.

A blood clot may have gone to your lungs if you suddenly have:

  • A hard time breathing.

You can help prevent blood clots if you:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes, socks, or stockings.
  • Raise your legs 6 inches above your heart from time to time.
  • Wear special stockings if your doctor prescribes them.
  • Do exercises your doctor gives you.
  • Change your position often, especially during a long trip.
  • Do not stand or sit for more than 1 hour at a time.
  • Eat less salt.
  • Try not to bump or hurt your legs and try not to cross them.
  • Do not use pillows under your knees.
  • Raise the bottom of your bed 4 to 6 inches with blocks or books.
  • Take all medicines the doctor prescribes you.

Stay active!

How To Prevent Blood Clots When Flying

A blood clota condition known medically as deep vein thrombosis occurs when your blood cannot circulate properly through the body. It can happen at anytime, not just when youre in the air. In fact, any time youre seated for an extended period of timelike on a train or in a sedentary jobyou are putting yourself at a greater risk for DVT. But some of the elements of air travel, like elevation and tight quarters, can factor into this risk.

However, even with these factors in mind, the risk of developing a blood clot during air travel is relatively low, says Robert J. Meisner, MD, FACS, vascular surgeon at Main Line Health.

Your risk may be greater if you have a medical history of blood clots or varicose veins, are taking certain medications like estrogen-containing contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, are pregnant or have had a surgery within the past 90 days. But generally, and in most instances, air travel wont lead to a life-threatening blood clot.

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Can Pulmonary Embolism Be Prevented

Preventing new blood clots can prevent PE. Prevention may include

  • Continuing to take blood thinners. It’s also important to get regular checkups with your provider, to make sure that the dosage of your medicines is working to prevent blood clots but not causing bleeding.
  • Heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as heart-healthy eating, exercise, and, if you smoke, quitting smoking
  • Using compression stockings to prevent deep vein thrombosis

  • Moving your legs when sitting for long periods of time
  • Moving around as soon as possible after surgery or being confined to a bed

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

How Do I Get Rid Of A Blood Clot In My Leg

Tips for surviving long

DVT treatment options include: Blood thinners. DVT is most commonly treated with anticoagulants, also called blood thinners. Clot busters. Also called thrombolytics, these drugs might be prescribed if you have a more serious type of DVT or PE , or if other medications arent working. Filters. Compression stockings.

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Manage Your Stress Levels

During times of stress, your nervous system releases a flood of hormones that can increase plaque and restrict blood flow. Stress can also cause your blood vessels to constrict in a process called vasoconstriction. Stressful situations will always pop up in life, but how you manage these moments can make the difference between good and poor blood circulation. For better circulation and a plethora of other health benefits, it’s important to find a stress management technique that works for you.

Elevate Your Legs While Sleeping Or Occasionally

Hiking your legs up to the height of 6 inches above the level of your heart is a simple and effective way to prevent blood clots, especially if youre at risk of developing a thrombus. Elevating your legs will help keep your circulation going even in your sleep. You can use a special pillow to raise your legs, or simply put a stack of books under your mattress.

Sleeping with your legs elevated can also reduce swelling in the legs and feet and relieve the discomfort that accompanies poor blood circulation and swelling. If sleeping with legs raised is not your thing, you can also elevate your legs occasionally, like when youre watching TV on the couch or reading something.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms can help you get treatment at the earliest signs of a blood clot.

A DVT can occur without any symptoms, but the following are the most common signs and symptoms of a DVT:

  • Swelling of the affected limb
  • Pain or tenderness not caused by injury
  • Skin that is warm to the touch, red, or discolored

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, alert your doctor as soon as possible.

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a PE:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain that worsens with a deep breath or cough
  • Coughing up blood

Keep Up With Meds When On Vacation

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When you take a well-deserved vacation from work and your daily routine, make sure you don’t take a break from your medications. If your doctor has told you to take low-dose aspirin or other anticoagulant medicines daily to prevent a blood clot, take them as prescribed no matter where you are or what you’re doing. It may be even more important when vacationing you could be spending more time than usual relaxing and not moving enough. If you have trouble remembering, set an alarm on your smartphone as a reminder to take your regular medications.

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What Can I Do To Prevent A Dvt

  • Exercise regularly to help increase your blood flow. Walking is a good low-impact exercise. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Change your body position or move around often. Move and stretch in your seat several times each hour if you travel by car or work at a desk. In an airplane, get up and walk every hour. Move your legs by tightening and releasing your leg muscles while sitting. You can move your legs while sitting by raising and lowering your heels. Keep your toes on the floor while you do this. You can also raise and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the floor.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for you. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your DVT. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Ask about birth control if you are a woman who takes the pill. A birth control pill increases the risk for PE in certain women. The risk is higher if you are also older than 35, smoke cigarettes, or have a blood clotting disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider about other ways to prevent pregnancy, such as a cervical cap or intrauterine device .

Stay Hydrated While Traveling

Whether youre flying or driving, it is easy to get dehydrated.

When youre driving, chances are good you dont want to be chugging water or else youll find yourself often hitting every rest area along the way. And, when it comes to plane travel, no one likes an airplane bathroom, so some avoid it at all costs by limiting their water intake. However, when you are traveling, you should be upping your water intake.

Not only is flying dehydrating, but it also forces you to sit for long periods of time.

If youre sitting for more than 2 hours in either a car or on a plane, then you are increasing your risk of blood clots. If traveling by car, try to stop every hour to hour and a half, get out and walk around. If youre confined by the walls of an airplane, get up and walk around the aisles as often as you can to keep things moving.

Also, note that many airlines have seatback cards with suggested exercises that can be done while seated to help prevent blood clots. This includes calf pumps and writing the letters of the alphabet using your feet.

When traveling, you will also want to try and stay away from drinks that will dehydrate you even further, such as caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks like soda.

A good thing to take with you when traveling to help avoid blood clots in your legs is compression stockings. Its preferable to have them prescribed to you by a vein specialist but if you find yourself in a pinch, you can get them over the counter.

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Stay Hydrated To Reduce The Risk Of Blood Thickening

Dehydration is a significant risk factor for DVT, so make sure to pay attention to your fluid intake. Hydration is important because it reduces the viscosity of blood,” Dr. Obi says. When you are dehydrated, the blood can thicken become sluggish, and this can lead to clotting.

Keep in mind that alcohol and large quantities of caffeinated beverages are diuretics and can add to your risk of dehydration.

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Information For Patients About Blood Clot Prevention

How to Naturally Prevent Blood Clots

How Do I Prevent Blood Clots?

Blood clots claim more over 100,000 lives yearly in the United States. Yet as serious a health issue as blood clots are, studies have shown at-risk patients often dont receive treatments known to help prevent them.

The Johns Hopkins Venous Thromboembolism Collaborative has developed a video and an educational handout to better engage patients and their loved ones as partners in preventing blood clots.

The handout is also available in:

Content from the handout is adapted below.

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How Do I Know If I Have A Blood Clot

You should also be able to recognize the signs of a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a piece of a blood clot separates or breaks off and travels to the lungs. This is a more emergent and life-threatening issue. Notify a member of your flight or train staff if you start to experience:

  • Difficulty breathing

What Is A Blood Clot

The main function of blood is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body and carry away the waste to be disposed.

Blood travels in arteries and veins. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body and veins bring it back.

When trauma occurs, or we cut ourselves, the blood stream carries proteins to the damaged area to seal it from further blood loss.

There is a delicate balance between too much and too little clotting factors. Too little and we continue to bleed. Usually this is from pharmaceuticals like aspirin and Coumadin, but may be from genetic disorders, cancer, and nutritional deficiencies.

The clotting process gone haywire can be catastrophic, leading to deep venous thrombosis in the legs and pulmonary embolism in the lungs.

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Use A Bed Wedge And Pillows

In addition to regularly elevating your legs throughout the day, you should also consider using a pillow to raise them while you sleep.

When lying down, adding a pillow under your feet or between your knees can help keep blood flowing. Meanwhile, using a bed wedge pillow can elevate your head and back. As a bonus, this can also improve snoring and symptoms of sleep apnea by opening the airways.

Assessment Of Cases And Controls

Are blood clots a concern after weight loss surgery?

The anthropometric parameters of the patients were determined, i.e. age, sex and BMI. After inclusion into the study, all participants completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to assess their subjective level of daytime sleepiness and were evaluated for the presence of the aforementioned risk factors for thrombosis.

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What Is A Deep Vein Thrombosis

A DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein of the body. The deep veins in the legs, thighs, and hips are the most common sites for DVT. A DVT can also occur in a deep vein within your arms. The clot prevents the normal flow of blood in the vein. The blood backs up and causes pain and swelling. The DVT can break into smaller pieces and travel to your lungs and cause a blockage called a pulmonary embolism . A PE can become life-threatening.

Inferior Vena Cava Filters

Although anticoagulant medicines and compression stockings are usually the only treatments needed for DVT, inferior vena cava filters may be used as an alternative. This is usually because anticoagulant treatment needs to be stopped, isn’t suitable, or isn’t working.

IVC filters are small mesh devices that can be placed in a vein. They trap large fragments of a blood clot and stop it travelling to the heart and lungs. They can be used to help prevent blood clots developing in the legs of people diagnosed with:

  • DVT

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How To Prevent Clots In The Legs And Lungs

A blockage outside the heart can be just as dangerous as a heart attack.

A blood clot in the coronary arteries can cause a heart attack. But a blood clot in a large vein somewhere else in the body, called venous thromboembolism , can also end in a medical emergency. Fortunately, the risk factors for heart attacks and “vein attacks” are similar, and therefore VTE is preventable. And if you do develop a clot, treatment with anticoagulant medications can protect you from developing another.

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Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

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Deep-vein thrombosis is the medical term for blood clots that form in leg veins this can be a severe condition, with some cases leading to death. Pulmonary embolisms are when a piece of a blood clot breaks away, travels through the veins, and becomes trapped in the lungs, which can lead to life-threatening circumstances.

If you have health conditions that already put you at risk for blood clotting, elevating your feet could be a great way to mitigate this issue.

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How Often Should You Move To Avoid Blood Clots

How can I prevent a blood clot? Get up and walk around every 23 hours if you are able to and if space allows. Do seated leg stretches. Raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes on the floor. If youre at risk for a DVT, talk with your doctor about taking medication or wearing graduated compression stockings.

Find Your Inner Zen With Yoga

Wondering how to improve poor blood circulation? With Yoga of course! Starting a yoga routine will help increase blood flow throughout your body while also helping you to de-stress and reduce tension and anxiety.

Yoga, in general, helps improve circulation, but some poses are especially helpful. To improve circulation, try the chair pose, mountain II pose, downward dog, triangle and yoga lunge.

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How To Prevent A Blood Clot

Health Check Certified By: Patty Weasler, RN

Deep vein thrombosis is a type of blood clot that typically develops deep in the veins of the leg. DVT is extremely dangerous as it can dislodge and travel to a major organ, or stifle blood flow to the heart. A deep vein thrombosis could also lead to pulmonary embolisms , in which the blood clot travels to the lungs. According to WebMD approximately 350,000 Americans develop DVT every year and for 10-percent of patients these blood clots are fatal.

Here are 10 ways to protect yourself and prevent a blood clot

Travelling While Recovering From A Previous Dvt

Getting active after blood clot: Exercises to try at home

If you had DVT recently, you’re probably taking medicine, such as apixaban or warfarin, to prevent new blood clots.

If that’s the case, your medicine will protect you from getting another DVT while you’re taking it. So, your risk of getting a DVT from travelling is low and there should be no reason why you cannot travel, including long haul. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns before you travel.

If you had a DVT within the last 2 weeks, get the all-clear from your doctor before travelling.

Page last reviewed: 18 April 2019 Next review due: 18 April 2022

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