10 Lifesaving Things To Know About Blood Clots

by Jenny Hansen

Photo by: Gruff15 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by: Gruff15 via Wikimedia Commons

Today we’re going to talk about a health concern that nearly anyone is at risk for.

I received a call from my cousin yesterday and she’s got DVT (that’s deep vein thrombosis) in her right leg. Gah! She’s not even 40 years old.

Why did she reach out to me, you might ask? Well, I’m kind of the blood clot expert amongst my family and friends. And no, I’m not a doctor; this is all hands-on experience.

My cousin called because I’ve had SCADS of blood clots (one in each leg [called bilateral DVT] and about 50 in my lungs [called pulmonary embolism]). I always joke that “my platelets really like to get their love on.”

I have a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden, which I found out when I GOT the blood clots. (Before you freak, I’m fine. I’m not going to keel over tomorrow.)

Clotting disorders can be managed quite easily, as is evidenced by the fact that I’ve not had another one since the first incident back in 2005. Still, as I chatted with my cousin, it occurred to me that I have a metric ton of blood clot prevention info stored up in my brain.

The most important thing to know…

Anyone can get a blood clot.

Seriously. You don’t have to be hypercoagulent like me to develop them. In fact, when I got all my pesky clots, I was 37 years old and did kickboxing three times a week.

But I was engaging in some risky blood clot behavior:

  • Sitting long hours at a desk.
  • Drinking lots of coffee and not enough water.
  • Taking birth control pills.
  • Stressing out about a crazy work project.
  • I’d just put on a 5-10 pounds from the Pill and the aforementioned project.
  • I sat most of those long hours in a cold room with air conditioning blowing on me.
  • As a result, I was dehydrated.

Sound familiar?? That probably describes you or several people you know.

Because the above behaviors are pretty normal, Americans are at an increased risk these days to develop a blood clot. However, just because anyone can get a blood clot doesn’t mean anyone will. Unlike mine, your #5 gene is likely normal.

This post is about the many things you can learn and do to decrease the likelihood of a blood clot.

  • Part 1 (the first five bullets) contains the “big picture” things you should know.
  • Part 2 is at my site, More Cowbell, where I discuss 5 specific (and easy) behavior changes you can make.

Here are the first 5 Things you should know about blood clots:

#1 – What causes them?

There a few short-term causes for blood clots like smoking, taking the Pill, and surgery, but here are the top four most common risk factors:

For women, the 5th most common risk factor is pregnancy, since the body creates an extra FOUR POUNDS of blood over the course of nine months. (Can we say “pregnancy glow?”). Also, the weight of the baby pressing on veins in the pelvis can slow blood return from the legs.

Clots are more likely to form when blood slows or pools, like when you’re sitting long periods in a chair or traveling long distances in a car or plane.

For most of you, your blood clot risks are VERY preventable. Of those big four up there, you may only ever have obesity or cancer.

#2 – Stay hydrated — like REALLY hydrated

Believe it or not, this is the hardest one for me. I am not a happy water drinker. But how much water do you really need?

Those recommended 8 glasses of water a day are the minimum. Really, that’s only 64 ounces. The easy formula for your total water intake each day is: halve your weight and drink that number of ounces of water. So, a 200 pound man would need 100 ounces of water a day. A 140 pound woman would need 70 ounces.

My motto is: Drink enough to make your urine clear and stop worrying about it.

#3 – Be aware of foods high in Vitamin K

Vitamin K is very, very good for you but people with any of the four risk factors above need to be aware of what it does and how much of it they ingest through their food. In the body, vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting. Since it thickens the blood, it’s often used to reverse the effects of “blood thinning” medications like Coumadin when the dosage is too high. If you have a clotting disorder, it’s imperative you be aware of your Vitamin K consumption.

The highest dose Vitamin K foods are green leafy vegetables, which are excellent for you. Oatmeal and cheddar cheese are also high in Vitamin K.

Conversely, you should be aware of the foods most likely to prevent blood clots. Garlic, ginger, fish oils, flax seeds, peppermint and cinnamon are all staples for me because they help my body naturally prevent blood clots. Plus, most of ’em keep my platelets slippery.

Note: If you’re already on a blood thinner, this link should help.

#4 – An aspirin a day really does help keep the doctor away

I’m talking about baby aspirin here. Taking a full adult aspirin (about 325 mg) daily should only be done at the advice of a doctor.

However, aspirin is an anti-coagulent and I do take at least one baby aspirin every day. If you’ve had a blood clot or are at high risk of one, your doctor probably already told you to take fish oil and baby aspirin daily.

Note: if you’re on an anti-coagulent medication DO NOT take aspirin.

#5 – Change behaviors that increase the likelihood of a blood clot

There are simple daily things you can do and behaviors you can modify to decrease your chances of developing a blood clot. I’m discussing 5-6 easy prevention methods in great detail today at More Cowbell.

Do you have any personal experience with blood clots? Do you have questions? Join this discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter.

~ Jenny


About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

© 2013 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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