How to Prevent Blood Clots

How to Prevent Blood Clots

Medically reviewed in April 2019

A blood clot in the lung—called a pulmonary embolism (PE)—is a quick path to a dicey medical emergency. So here's how to prevent blood clots: stand up.

In a large study, researchers found that women who sit for more than 41 hours a week are at higher risk of developing a life-threatening PE. So take lots of breaks from that desk chair, couch, or recliner to improve blood circulation.

The downside of sitting
More than 300,000 people are diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism each year—a serious medical condition where a blood clot that has formed travels to one of the lungs and blocks an artery there, causing symptoms similar to those of a heart attack or a panic attack. And in a study, any amount of extended sitting seemed to increase risk of PE. In fact, women who sat for 6 hours or more a day were 37% more likely to die of PE—even if they exercised regularly. Eek. (Related: Are you at risk for deep vein thrombosis? Find out what it is and what raises your risk.)

Let's get physical
Although pulmonary embolism is scary enough in itself, it's also a common cause of heart disease. So what's a good way to avoid all that? Movement. Some studies have shown that exercise can help prevent blood clots from forming. And reducing the amount of time each day that you spend totally inactive will help, too. The less you sit, the more you’ll improve blood circulation. So check out these easy tips on how to prevent blood clots:

  • Be choosy. Go with your strengths, and choose activities that you like, prefer, even can't live without. Here's how it helps.
  • Rest your mind. Exercise at the beginning of the day, when your mind is fresh.
  • Move while you sit. You can be active while you're in a chair.

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