5 ways to reduce your risk of developing a blood clot

Did you know binge-watching television can increase your chances of developing a deadly blood clot? Here’s how to prevent the potentially life-threatening condition.

Around 30,000 Australians develop blood clots each year.

Preventable blood clots kill four times more Australians than road accidents each year.

No-one is immune – celeb Hailey Bieber was hospitalised after suffering a blood clot to her brain earlier this year.

But the good news is there are steps you can take to prevent the potentially deadly condition.

What is a blood clot?

Dr Isabelle Carr says blood clots, also known as thrombus, can form when blood changes from a liquid to a clump.

The House of Wellness television presenter says it is normal for blood to clot after damage to a blood vessel.

“That causes what are known as platelets, tiny blood products, to come and clump together, which then forms this cascade of chemical reaction, which forms a big clot to plug the gap,” she says.

When does a blood clot become a problem?

It only becomes a problem if the body forms blood clots when it doesn’t need to – which can lead to complications such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and cardio-embolic stroke.

Fellow House of Wellness TV show presenter Dr Nick Carr says blood clots should be taken seriously.

“When they are big and in the leg, they can cause pain and they can cause swelling,” Dr Carr warns.

“If a bit breaks off, it can fly up into the lungs and that’s where it causes cough, pain, shortness of breath, or even death.”

What are the symptoms of a blood clot?

Dr Nick Carr says blood clot symptoms depend on the location of where the clot is blocking blood flow, but can include:

  • Swelling or pain (especially in the legs)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat

What are the risk factors of developing a blood clot?

Dr Nick Carr says known risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Recent surgery
  • Cancer of any kind
  • Genetics and age
  • Pregnancy or childbirth
  • Various health conditions
  • Certain medications such as birth control which contains oestrogen

Sitting still for a long period of time is also a major risk factor, Dr Nick Carr adds.

“It’s not just long haul flights, it can be sitting on long train or bus journeys, or sitting in front of your computer screen all day long,” he says.

In fact, scientists recommend taking breaks when you are binge-watching TV to avoid blood clots.

A 2022 study found watching TV for four hours a day or more is associated with a 35 per cent higher risk of blood clots compared with people who watched less than 2.5 hours.

Covid-19 and the risk of blood clots

A 2022 Swedish study found the risk of developing serious bleeding or potentially deadly blood clots increases for months after experiencing even a mild Covid-19 infection.

The researchers found the virus is linked to a 33-fold increase in the risk of pulmonary embolism and a five-fold increase in the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.

How do I prevent a blood clots?

You can reduce your risk of developing a blood clot by:

  • Wear compression stockings if recommended by your doctor
  • Talk to your doctor about blood thinners
  • Getting up and moving while travelling, sitting at your desk or binge watching television
  • Wear loose fitting clothing when you travel
  • Exercising regularly

Watch Dr Nick Carr and Dr Isabelle Carr explain blood clots on The House of Wellness TV show.

Written by Bianca Carmona.