How Your Height Puts You at Risk for Blood Clots

While blood clots are rare, they’re also a very serious medical condition.†A new study discovered that your height may put you at higher risk for developing blood clots.

When it comes to blood clots most of the public need not worry. A rare one in 4,500 who travel long distances will get a blood clot. Overall, only one to two in 1,000 will get a blood clot from genetic risk factors like a clotting factor disorder or modifiable risk factors like obesity, diabetes, and hormone replacement therapy. Scientists are now discovering that their tall patients should know their risk too.

Whatís Height Got to Do With It?

A recent study found that body height was associated with increased risk of blood clots, which can appear in the legs or lungs.

The results of this study indicated greater risk while other studies show different results, meaning itís not as cut and dry as one might hope. Nonetheless, scientists and doctors are taking height into greater consideration when assessing their patients.

From an anatomical perspective, it makes sense. The longer your legs the greater the distance blood needs to travel from your feet back up towards your abdomen to eventually return to the heart and lungs for re-oxygenation.

The more distance between your legs and your heart and lungs the greater the risk for blood flow to slow, pool, and clot. Throw in inactivity, diabetes, obesity, or other genetic risk factors and you have a cocktail for mayhem.

How do you know if you have a blood clot?

There are easy-to-identify signs and symptoms that youíll need to report to your primary care provider.

First, keep an eye on your extremities. Look for swelling, redness, warmth, or tenderness in your legs and on the backs of your calves. It can even occur in your arms too. If youíre suddenly having chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting spells, or a fast heartbeat, then itís a sign that a clot has entered your lungs. Youíll need to go to the emergency room or call emergency medical services.

An Ounce of Prevention

Instead of treating clots, itís best to take a preventative approach. You can start by addressing your modifiable risk factors, which include hormone replacement therapy or birth control, obesity, inactivity, or diabetes. And be extra cautious if youíve recently broken a bone or had surgery.

Once youíve controlled most or all of your other risk factors, you can take a healthy approach to life to stave off blood clots. These four strategies should do the trick:

  1. Move frequently. Activity is the name of the game. Aside from preventing blood clots, regular, daily activity lowers your stress and decreases your risk of acquiring all kinds of diseases. Itís a general rule of health that more and more people are abiding by these days. Even if you consider yourself an active person, keep in mind that we all experience periods of inactivity traveling long distances or sitting at a desk all day.
  2. Uncross your legs. When you cross your legs you compress your blood vessels behind your knees. The compressed space creates a narrow window in which blood can accumulate and create a clot.
  3. Wear compression stockings. A time-honored trick-of-the-trade in health care, nurses have been wearing compression stockings since their inception. These long socks keep blood from pooling in your lower legs, ward of ulcers, and help relieve symptoms caused by varicose veins.
  4. Donít use pillows under your knees. Similar to crossing your legs, pillows can compress blood vessels behind knees, which creates a central point of contact for the formation of blood clots.

While the science doesnít yet prove that height puts you at greater risk, doctors think it makes sense, given what we know about clot formation and anatomy. You canít change how tall you are, but you can take steps to lower your risk today.

Related at Care2:

Image via Thinkstock.

54 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill14 days ago

I should be pretty safe then, I'm short. lol

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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Edith B
Edith B2 months ago

This seems logical.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 months ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 months ago

Thank you

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Winn A
Winn Adams2 months ago

Noted

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Amanda M
Amanda M2 months ago

Another reason to be glad I'm only 5'3"? I still hate being that short though-if it's not the annoyance of my view always being blocked by tall people in a crowd, it's the agony of them always stepping on my feet!

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Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Nita L
Nita L2 months ago

Makes sense. Thank you.

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