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Pulmonary Embolism: Lifestyle Management

This information was reviewed and approved by Chhaya Patel, MD (3/1/2021).

Preventing future pulmonary embolisms (PE) includes knowing your risk for PE and maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Here’s what increases your risk of PE: 

  • Family history of blood clots
  • Hospitalization 
  • Major surgery of the pelvis, abdomen, hip or knee
  • Severe physical trauma from a car accident or fall
  • Vein injury from a broken bone or severe muscle injury
  • Hormone therapy containing estrogen
  • Pregnancy and delivery
  • Heart and lung conditions, cancer or diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Being on bed rest or using a wheelchair
  • Sitting too long, especially with crossed legs
  • Smoking
  • Age 55 or older

If you have increased risk of PE, talk with your doctor about a specific plan to decrease that risk. Your plan may include these lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes that help prevent pulmonary embolisms:

Eating Well

Eat a balanced diet will help you obtain and maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk of blood clots.

Elevatation of the Lower Extremities

Put your feet up twice a day for 30 minutes to prevent the blood from pooling in your legs.


You need to regularly exercise and move your legs to prevent the blood from pooling. If you are bed-ridden or sit for long periods, move your arms and legs for a few minutes each hour. If you can, get out of bed and walk across your room. Walk around your house or down your driveway once or twice a day. Also, when sitting, avoid crossing your legs when you sit to help the blood flow faster.

Drink Liquids

Drink a lot of water and juice to prevent dehydration and to get you up and moving (to the bathroom). Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine.


Avoid crossing your legs when you sit to help the blood flow faster.


Do not smoke or get help to quit smoking.


Wear compression stockings to help prevent swelling in your legs and your blood from clotting.


If you can’t stand up, or if you are sitting for long periods of time, stretch your arms and legs to help keep blood flowing smoothly.


Lose weight if you are overweight and try to maintain a healthy weight.

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