NCWA blog welcomes Dr. Rita Hancock with medical advice for writers.
Having to sit and write for long periods of time could put you at substantial risk for developing life-threatening blood clots in your legs, especially if you have certain medical conditions that predispose to clots. These blood clots (aka: “deep vein thromboses” or “DVTs”) are dangerous because they can dislodge from your leg veins and cause sudden death by passing into the lungs, disrupting blood flow, and creating life-threatening pressure changes in your cardio-pulmonary system.
Unfortunately, about half of the time, there’s no outward sign of DVTs. But when there are signs, patients usually complain of calf pain and swelling. They may also have pain on squeezing the leg or when they abruptly bend the ankle upward (this is known as Homan’s sign).
Several factors in addition to the sedentary lifestyle predispose to clots. One factor is family history. If your close family members get clots, you may be at risk also. Another factor is the use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy. Still another is smoking. Additional factors include trauma (including venous catheter trauma), advanced age, cancer, elevated platelet counts, immobility or paralysis of the area (such as due to casting), prolonged immobility due to plane travel or long car rides, surgery, pregnancy, heart failure, obesity, or a personal history of blood clots.
If you test positive for a blood clot (usually through a test called “venous dopplers” and a blood test called “D-dimer) your doctor will most likely admit you to the hospital for and start you on clot busters or blood thinners. Sometimes, you might even have a “filter” inserted into the large vein in your abdomen (the vena cava) to trap clots that try to travel upstream to your lungs.
Now, let’s talk about the most important thing: blood clot prevention. First, try to minimize your chances of clotting by educating yourself about the risk factors . Quit smoking, get moving, and lose weight (if you need help with weight loss, check out my book, The Eden Diet. Those who sit for long periods should consider wearing thigh-high compression hose, which are usually available at your local hospital supply store, and should do “ankle-pumps,” where you bend your ankles up and down to get the blood flowing more readily in your legs.
If you’re a writer, it’s important for you to talk to your doctor about your risk factors for blood clots. Depending on your unique history, you may have to take either aspirin or a prescription medicine like warfarin (basically: rat poison), heparin, or others. It’s also important for you to understand what foods and medicines might interact with your prescription. Some agents can increase your tendency to clot, while others, like vitamin E and fish oil, garic, ginger, and ginseng, increase your tendency to bleed excessively.
A version of this post first appeared October 11, 2012 on Gina Conroy’s blog, “Writer Interrupted.” Re-posted by kind permission.
For more information about health and wellness–especially as it relates to biblical truth–read Dr. Rita Hancock’s book, Radical Well-being: A Biblical Guide to Overcoming Pain, Illness, and Addictions (Siloam, January 8, 2013) or visit www.RadicalWell-being.com. Also, follow Dr. Rita on Twitter (@RitaHancockMD) and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RadicalWellBeing. And for Dr. Rita’s biblical weight loss advice, visit www.TheEdenDiet.com.