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Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis

NYU Langone doctors advise people on how to avoid deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, a blood clot that usually forms in a leg. If not treated quickly, a clot can break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, creating a life-threatening blockage known as a pulmonary embolism.

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Certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. These include remaining in the same position for long periods while traveling or recovering from surgery, having a family history of the condition, having cancer or chemotherapy, being pregnant, and using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or other hormone therapy.

Fortunately, some of these risk factors can be controlled. Leading an active lifestyle, avoiding tobacco, and staying as mobile as possible before and after surgery are all ways to decrease the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.

Be Active

Physical activity promotes blood flow and may prevent deep vein thrombosis. If your work involves sitting at a desk for many hours a day, our doctors advise that you stand frequently and stretch, take occasional walking breaks, and flex and move your legs and feet.

While on a plane, move around in your seat as best you can, and get up occasionally. If you’re driving, take regular breaks and get out of the car to stretch and walk around.

If you’ve had surgery, NYU Langone doctors and nurses encourage you to regain mobility as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration contributes to the development of sluggish blood flow and blood clots. NYU Langone doctors advise drinking 8 to 10 8-ounce glasses of water each day for optimal blood flow. It’s especially important to do this when your mobility is limited for long periods, such as while traveling.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity puts additional pressure on the veins in your legs, which contributes to poor blood flow and the development of blood clots. If you carry extra body weight, losing even a few pounds may lower your blood pressure and improve blood flow. Your doctor can direct you to NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program to help you reach a healthy weight.

Don’t Smoke

One of the best ways to prevent a blood clot is to stop smoking or using any tobacco products. Our experts understand this isn’t easy. NYU Langone offers effective Tobacco Cessation Programs to help you quit for good.

Review Your Medications

If you are using hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives and have other risk factors for deep vein thrombosis, your NYU Langone physician may advise you to avoid these medications. He or she can discuss alternative therapies with you.

Our Research and Education in Deep Vein Thrombosis

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.