Blood Clots and Dehydration

Karen McNew McGuire's picture
By Karen McNew McGuire on April 21, 2017

Fact Check: Dehydration is a risk factor for blood clots. 


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the U.S. as many as 900,000 people could be affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, often in the leg.  And although it might not sound serious, a pulmonary embolism (PE) can result if a DVT travels to your lungs and blocks a blood vessel. That leads to low oxygen levels in your blood, causing damage to your lungs and other organs.

In this week's Fact Check video, Cindy Ward, D.N.P., a clinical nurse specialist with Carilion Clinic explains how dehydration impacts blood clot risk.

The CDC also recommends the following to help prevent blood clots: 

  • Move around as soon as possible after having been confined to a bed, such as after surgery, illness or injury.

  • If you are at risk for blood clots, talk with your doctor about specific ways you can prevent them from occurring. Compression devices (like compression stockings) and medication (anticoagulants) are two ways to prevent DVT.

  • When sitting for long periods of time, such as when traveling for more than four hours, get up and walk around every two to three hours, exercise your legs while you are sitting and wear loose-fitting clothes.

  • You can reduce your risk for blood clots by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, exercise improves blood flow, so don't be a couch potato.

  • It's especially important to know your risk for blood clots and follow your doctor's recommendations based on your individual risk factors.