All patients admitted to the hospital have a higher chance of getting a blood clot because they often are in bed for long periods of time. When a patient is in bed and not active, their blood moves more slowly through the blood vessels and a clot can form. A clot in the blood vessel can attach to the vessel wall and become larger, sometimes completely blocking the vessel. A clot can also break free from the vessel wall and travel through the blood vessels to other parts of the body. Blood clots that travel to the heart, brain or lungs can cause severe medical problems.
Blood clots in hospitalized patients can be prevented. If the doctor approves, it is important that patients get out of bed. Hospital staff routinely assess patients to determine their risk for developing a blood clot. If a patient has a blood clot, they should receive treatment as soon as possible. To prevent blood clots, equipment can be used to slightly compress the legs, which helps improve blood flow through the blood vessels. Blood thinners and/or other medications can be used to prevent blood clots. Hospital staff determine the best prevention methods for each patient.
Sometimes patients get a blood clot during their hospital stay. When this happens, the patient should receive medications that act quickly to help break up the clot and also prevent other clots from forming. Most patients who have a blood clot will continue taking blood thinning medication after they leave the hospital. Patients who take blood thinning medication must talk with their doctor about a plan for taking the medication. Blood thinning medications may require lifestyle changes. Patients need to talk with their doctor about other medications they take, their diet and activity level. Many medications and some foods can change how the blood thinning medication works. Blood must be tested on a regular basis to see if the blood is too thin. Patients must call their doctor if have symptoms such as dizziness or if they fall or have an injury.