How to avoid potentially fatal blood clots

Anyone can get a blood clot, but you’re more at risk when you’re immobile

Blood clots can create a pulmonary embolism, or cause heart attack or stroke. Knowing when you are most at risk can cut down your chances of having one. Anyone can get a blood clot, but you're more at risk when you're immobile. Moving is the key to preventing them.

When you're at risk:

1 If you have a family history of blood clots. Talk to your GP.

2 On a plane – if your flight lasts longer than two hours, get up and walk around every hour or two. When you're sitting, change your position often. Don't cross your legs, since that can weaken blood flow.

3 Driving – like a flight, this can keep you almost immobile for hours. Pull over safely and get out of the car for a couple of minutes at least. Make sure you move your legs by bending the knees and stretching for example. Encourage your passengers to do the same – they're at risk too.

4 Recovering from surgery or other illness. get up and move around as soon as you are allowed to do so. Remember you don't need to move your whole body – concentrate on legs/calves/ankles. Move one side at a time and make sure you repeat the exercise on the other side.

5 Dehydration. You need to stay hydrated, otherwise your blood can thicken and flow less easily.

What can you do to prevent blood clots?

Keep moving – inactivity whether on a flight, during a long drive or train journey or stuck in an office chair. Try to make sure you get up and walk around at least once an hour. In between, move as much as you can. Remember that you don't have to move your whole body – concentrate on moving your legs in particular. Find exercises you can do in a chair – such as calf stretches where you raise your heels but keep your toes on the floor.

Wear loose clothing. Tight clothing can restrict your circulation. If you feel anything tight – loosen it – ties and belts in particular.

Stay hydrated - drink eight glasses of water a day, and always drink one glass when you get up in the morning. You may find it annoying to have to visit the loo more often but moving around (including walking to the toilet) is decreasing your chances of having a problem clot.

Have a chat with your doctor if you have family history or have suffered a clot in the past. Blood-thinning medication may be appropriate for you. Or compression stockings - your GP can advise you.

Stop smoking - smoking restricts your blood flow and makes clots more likely.

If you develop symptoms of a blood clot, see your GP as soon s possible or go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.