Pulmonary embolism - Preventing pulmonary embolism
NHS Choices Medical Reference
If you are at risk of developing blood clots, there are a number of things that may be recommended to help prevent a pulmonary embolism.
If you are admitted to hospital to have surgery, your care team may recommend that you take an anticoagulant such as warfarin during your stay in hospital and when you go home.
This medication alters chemicals in your blood so that clots don't form easily.
Read more about anticoagulants.
It may also be recommended that you wear compression stockings and use compression devices while you are in hospital and after you go home.
Compression stockings fit tightly around your lower legs and encourage your blood to flow more quickly around your body. Compression devices are inflatable and work in a similar way, expanding at regular intervals to squeeze your legs and encourage the flow of blood.
Pulmonary embolisms can sometimes occur when the blood flow slows down during a prolonged period of inactivity, such as during recovery from surgery or long-distance travel.
Therefore, it is very important that you increase your mobility as soon as possible after surgery by moving around or doing leg exercises. You should also avoid taking long journeys for four weeks after you come out of hospital.
If you are at risk of developing blood clots, consult your GP before embarking on long-distance travel. They can offer advice about ways to reduce the chances of a clot developing during your journey, such as:
- perform simple leg exercises, such as regularly flexing your ankles
- take occasional short walks when possible
- take advantage of refuelling stopovers where it may be possible to get out and walk about
- wear elastic compression stockings
Read more about preventing blood clots when you travel.
Smoking, diet and exercise
You can also reduce your risk of developing a pulmonary embolism by: