A little reality check here, my own personal PSA. I was in the hospital this week with blood clots in my leg—and my lungs. I’m recovering at home. I could have died. I’m not out of the woods yet.
Throughout all history, bed-rest has been considered the logical prescription for sickness--and it is. But not for too long. And not without moving our legs about. Who knows how many people throughout history have died from ignorance of this one stipulation? It reminds me of the horrible practice of blood-letting that was thought to cleanse the body of disease, when in fact, it only made the patient weaker.
• Blood clots usually start in the lower legs due to inactivity. Long plane rides, car rides, sitting for long hours in one position—anything that impedes blood circularion—can be the cause. When seated for a long time, take breaks and move around every hour. Walk. Flex your ankles. Move your toes, march in place (even while seated). Keep the blood flowing.
• Don’t get dehydrated. Drink plenty of water. And remember, alcohol and caffeine dehydrate.
• Blood clots sometimes occur after surgery or hospital stays when other health issues have made you inactive. If you can't get up and walk, move your legs and feet, or if that's not possible, your doctor can put compression sleeves on your legs that are attached to a machine that periodically massages them to keep the circulation going.
• Pregnant women need to be aware--especially if you've had a C-section.
• Obesity adds to the risk
• Your risk can be higher if you take birth control pills or hormone replacement
• Smokers are at higher risk
It’s also vital you know the symptoms. With DVTs you may have some or all of these warning signs:
• A touch-sensitive red skin rash
• Pain in the calf, inside of leg, or behind the knee. This can feel like a muscle cramp or a knotty feeling to the veins.
• Red streaks on the leg
• Your skin feels hot to the touch in the affected areas
• Swelling when you stand. This is the most common symptom. When you sit, put your leg up, and straighten it, the pain and swelling may lessen. But as soon as you stand or sit with your knee bent, the leg can swell up to varying degrees, from slightly, to twice its size, even looking like a sausage about to burst. It also might get very red.
What to do if you think you have a blood clot in your leg(s):
• Get to a doctor or to an ER. Depending on the severity, you may be admitted to the hospital and told not to move much or even stand. The danger is that a blood clot can dislodge and travel up the main leg artery to the heart and lungs. This is a pulmonary embolism and can be fatal.
What are the symptoms of a blood clot in your lungs?
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Rapid heart rate
• Unexplained cough
I’d had a blood clot in my leg for three days and was stupidly waiting for a weekday to go to the doctor—I’m one to avoid the ER if I can. But Sunday morning (again being stupid) I was heading to church, and at the end of my driveway got intense chest pains. My husband drove me to the ER where I had blood clots in my leg, and all three lobes of my right lung! After a few days in the hospital, I’m taking blood thinner now (which doesn't actually thin the blood, but keeps new clots from forming and existing clots from getting bigger.) I'm at home now, waiting for my blood to "thin" to therapeutic levels. There are many good websites full of information. Here's Mayo Clinic's site: BLOOD CLOTS - DVT and WebMD: DVT