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Blood and the Body

Preventing Risk: Pulmonary Embolism, Heart Attack, and Stroke

How can you help protect yourself against clotting disorders?

The best news is that your risk for all of these life-threatening conditions can be decreased significantly with the same steps! Some of the steps are simple, like knowing symptoms so you can get help if needed. Others, like diet and exercise, are a little harder. Knowing what to do to limit risk is the most important step. For things that require more time, take steps one-by-one, knowing that each step has many benefits.

  1. Diet & exercise: Being overweight is a large risk factor for clotting disorders. Find the solutions that work for you, to begin to eat a healthy diet and to have some regular exercise.
  2. If you smoke, find a way to stop.
  3. Be aware of the symptoms: Know what to look out for, especially if you have increased risk of clotting such as taking birth control pills, pregnancy, or in one place for an extended period of time like overseas travel (see below).
  4. Move around: If you are taking a long flight or drive, get up and walk around; keep the blood moving through your veins.
  5. Limit your risk factors: Having one risk factor is dangerous enough; having multiple risk factors greatly increases your risk of clotting disorders.

What are the symptoms?

Deep vein thrombosis

Pulmonary embolism

Heart Attack


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Last Reviewed: May 01, 2012

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Director, Area Health Education Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University