Tips to Prevent DVT after Surgery

Tips to Prevent DVT after SurgeryDeep vein thrombosis is a potentially dangerous condition in which blood clots develop in the deep veins, most often in the legs. If the blood clot becomes able to leave the vein where it forms, it can potentially travel to the lungs, a frequently fatal condition called a pulmonary embolism.

There are several factors that increase your risk for developing DVT:

  • A family or personal history of the condition
  • Inherited blood disorders like factor V Leiden
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Using certain forms of birth control
  • Pregnancy
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Increased age
  • Tobacco use

Incidence of DVT is at its highest following injury and certain surgical procedures, especially procedures that involve the legs and hips. If you already meet any of the risk factors listed above, then it is in your best interest to take preventative steps before entering the hospital to prevent DVT.

There are several reasons your risk for DVT increases when you undergo surgery:

  • Injury to veins during surgery can impede proper blood flow.
  • The use of certain anesthetics during surgery can cause veins to dilate, which increases the likelihood that blood will pool and potentially clot.
  • Surgical procedures and hospitalization requiring catheter use is especially associated with DVT.

Preventing DVT

Researchers from the University of California found that DVT occurs in as many as 40 percent of general surgery cases where a catheter is involved when preventative steps aren’t taken. You can start preventing your risk of DVT before you even enter the hospital by:

  • Staying active
  • Maintaining a healthy weight level
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Using alternative methods of birth control, other than oral contraceptives
  • Take breaks from sitting by standing up and stretching your legs routinely every couple of hours

Of course, you don’t always know when you are going to be making a visit to the hospital, and so there isn’t always a chance to take preventative action for DVT in the days leading up to your stay.

In these situations, start a dialogue with your doctor about your concerns of DVT. Explain your personal risk factors and let them know you want to be cautious during your hospital stay. Many physicians now recommend anti-coagulant medications during hospital stays to reduce the risk of DVT.

Taking these steps before surgery can help prevent your risk of experiencing a blood clot following your operation.

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