Blood clots are a common health condition. They can happen to anyone, at any age. How common?
- One person each minute will be diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis in the US.
- One person every six minutes will die from pulmonary embolism.
Many of the deaths from blood clots are preventable. Education and vigilance is essential.
How can you be a proactive person about blood clots?
- Family history: Know your family medical history. Learn if anyone in your family has experienced deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. A family history increases risk. Make your physicians aware of this family history.
- Diagnosis: Be aware that other medical conditions can also mimic the symptoms of a blood clot, making it difficult to diagnosis and treat in a timely manner. Symptoms can sometimes be subtle or there may be none at all.
- Don't delay going to the doctor: If you have symptoms of a blood clot, go get checked out by a physician. Don't delay going to the doctor. Early treatment can prevent many complications, including death.
- Ask questions: It is OK to ask your doctor, "Could this be a blood clot?" Be proactive. Ask your doctor to assess your clot risk.
- Move: Immobility increases the risk of developing clots. Move your legs frequently when on long trips--such as when traveling by plane, bus, or car. If you've been sitting for a long period of time, stop and take a break to stretch your legs. Be active. Activity improves circulation.
- Weight loss and smoking: Obesity is a risk factor for clots---lose weight if you are overweight. Smoking is a mild risk factor—don’t smoke.
- If you are hospitalized or planning a surgical procedure: Hospitalization greatly increases blood clot risk. If you are hospitalized or planning for surgery, ask your doctor: "Am I at risk for blood clots?" and "Should I be on a medication to prevent blood clots?" (You may hear such blood clot prevention measures called 'DVT prophylaxis' by your doctor.) If your doctor says 'yes', then ask : "How long should I be on this medication? Only while I'm hospitalized or also after I go home?"
- Hormones: If you are a woman on contraceptives or are considering contraceptives: know that all estrogen-containing birth control pills, rings and patches increase the risk for blood clots, some more than others. If you are on hormone replacement therapy, ask your doctor whether you still need to be on the hormones. If your doctor plans to start you on hormones—for osteoporosis or other reasons—ask whether there are alternatives.
March is DVT Awareness Month. While extra public attention is given to blood clots during the month of March, we don't want people to forget that knowing the symptoms and risk factors for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) is important in every month of the year.
If you have experienced DVT or PE, click here for information on how you can get involved to promote greater clot awareness
If you are a member of the news media, consult our Media Resources page and Media Kit for information and statistics about blood clots (deep vein thrombosis DVT and pulmonary embolism PE).