Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 13

Severe cases may call for an additional drug called a thrombolytic
agent (commonly known as a clot
buster) to help break down the clot.
In rare cases, Ansell says, surgery may
be performed to remove the clot.

Know Your
RISK FACTORS

There are a number of risk factors
for blood clots in the legs and lungs.
They include:
3 Hospitalization.
Hospitalization-especially when
it's associated with surgery, physical
trauma or prolonged immobility-can
be a major risk factor for blood clots.
In fact, about 1 out of 10 hospital
deaths are related to blood clots in
the lungs, according to the National
Blood Clot Alliance. So, if you end
up in the hospital, ask your doctor to
conduct a blood clot risk assessment.
If your healthcare provider determines
that you're at high risk for a clot, he
or she can prescribe blood thinners
to prevent clots from forming in the
first place.
3 Family History. "If you have a
first-degree relative-a sibling, a parent, a child-who's had a blood clot,
your risk is two times greater than
other people," Cushman says.
Unfortunately, because pulmonary
embolisms and deep vein thrombosis
aren't well-known, many people don't
think to ask their relatives about their
health history, Cushman says. It's
important to talk to your family to
learn more.
3 Injury and other risk factors.
Injury is another risk factor for
blood clots in the legs and lungs. For
Williams, a foot injury caused by a
piece of broken glass led to her 2011
pulmonary embolisms.
Other risk factors for clots in the
legs and lungs include cancer, surgery,
trauma (like from a car accident),
birth control methods that contain
estrogen, hormone therapy (which
contains estrogen), obesity, and

immobility (including being confined
to bed and sitting too long, like when
you're traveling on a long flight).
3 Pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or who have just given birth are
at higher risk for clots, too.
That's why Williams told Vogue she
had been scared of getting pregnant
since her initial pulmonary embolism
diagnosis in 2011.
To prevent clots from forming during her pregnancy, Williams injected
herself with anticoagulants. But
she was off the anticoagulant regimen to deliver her baby, whom she
calls Olympia. The next day, she
suddenly felt short of breath. She
alerted a nurse, and a CT scan soon
showed several small blood clots in
her lungs.

Preventing
BLOOD CLOTS

Fortunately, blood clots can
be prevented.
It's important to know your family
health history and let your healthcare
provider know if it includes blood
clots, Cushman says. Other things
that can help are to exercise regularly,
avoid prolonged sitting, maintain a
healthy weight and eat a healthy diet.
The National Blood Clot Alliance
also emphasizes the importance of
knowing your risk factors and recognizing signs and symptoms.
That's important even if you're generally healthy, says Karon Abe, PhD,
health scientist with the CDC.
After all, blood clots "can happen to
anybody," Abe says-even an elite athlete like Williams.
But she isn't letting her health
issues stop her. She told Vogue
that her desire to win more titles
hasn't changed.
"I absolutely want more Grand
Slams," Williams said. "And actually,
I think having a baby might help. ...
When I'm too anxious, I lose matches,
and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born." ■

PREVENTING
BLOOD CLOTS
AT 30,000 FEET
If you have a long flight (or even a
long car ride) coming up, you could be
at higher risk for a blood clot. That's
because sitting for long periods of
time in confined spaces (and not using
your muscles) can lead to clots.
Fortunately, you can take a few easy
precautions to help prevent clots.
1. GET MOVING.
"Exercise. Move the legs. Get up and
walk around," says Roy Silverstein,
MD, 2018 American Society of
Hematology president-elect. And when
you're at your seat, try small movements like rotating your ankles or
flexing your feet. "That increases the
blood flow."
2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER.
It's easy to get dehydrated on a flight.
But being dehydrated "tends to concentrate the blood," says Jack Ansell,
MD, past chair of the National Blood
Clot Alliance's Medical & Scientific
Advisory Board. So, make sure to drink
lots of water.
3. LAY OFF THE ALCOHOL.
"Alcohol can make dehydration
worse," Dr. Ansell says. If you're craving a beer or a glass of wine, wait
until you've reached your destination.
And in the meantime, ask for extra
water instead.

WEBSITE

Higher Risks
for Women
Women often face higher
risks for blood clots due to
certain types of birth control,
pregnancy, and treatment for
menopause symptoms. Learn
more at uvahealth.com/
pulmonaryembolisms.

FALL 2018

13


http://www.uvahealth.com/pulmonaryembolisms http://www.uvahealth.com/pulmonaryembolisms

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