How to protect yourself against thrombosis

Most people may not consider thrombosis as one of their biggest health concerns. Yet according to Thrombosis UK, blood clots – when blood forms a solid mass within a blood vessel – kill more people in Europe than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and traffic accidents combined.

The fifth World Thrombosis Day, held on October 13th by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, aims to increase public awareness of this condition.

For instance, you may have heard about deep vein thrombosis (DVT), where a clot develops within a deep vein in the body, usually a leg. But did you know that clots can form in arteries too (arterial thrombosis), potentially causing several serious problems including heart attacks and stroke?

Here are some other facts about thrombosis you may not know:

  • Arterial thrombosis can be very serious because it can stop blood reaching important organs.
  • If also usually affects people who have a condition called atherosclerosis, which is when the arteries are clogged with fatty deposits.
  • It’s not possible to prevent arterial thrombosis entirely, but you can reduce your risk of atherosclerosis by giving up smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthily and cutting down on alcohol.
  • DVT can also be serious because it can lead to complications such as pulmonary embolism, where a piece of the clot breaks off and blocks a blood vessel in the lungs (one in 10 people with a DVT will develop a pulmonary embolism, says the NHS).
  • DVT is more common in people aged 40 and older than those who are younger.

How to reduce your risk

The organisers of World Thrombosis Day have compiled the following top tips to help prevent DVT:

1. Recognise DVT risk factors

The following are some of the risk factors to be aware of:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Using oral contraceptives and postmenopausal hormone therapy
  • Hospitalisation for illness or surgery
  • Injury to a vein that may have been caused by a broken bone or severe muscle injury
  • Severe trauma, such as a car accident

2. Know the symptoms

You may have a DVT if you see or feel:

  • Pain and/or tenderness in the calf or thigh
  • Swelling of the leg, foot and/or ankle
  • Redness and/or noticeable discolouration
  • Warm skin in the area of the clot

If you experience any of the above, see your GP as soon as possible.

3. Stay physically active and eat healthily

Staying active and moving around may help prevent DVTs – even if it’s just taking regular short walks. Being overweight is also a major risk factor for blood clots, so making sure your diet is as healthy as possible to maintain an ideal weight could make a difference.

4. Move about during a long trip

If you’re planning a long-distance plane, train or car journey, try to move around whenever possible while you’re travelling.

5. Drink plenty of water

Make sure you have enough to drink daily, as dehydration can increase the risk of blood clots.

Your local Careway pharmacist can give you lots more information about the different types of thrombosis, including whether or not your risk may be higher than average and the signs to look out for. If you’re worried about any symptoms you may be experiencing, they can also offer support and advice, and let you know if you should see your GP.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.