Pulmonary embolism

What can I do to avoid getting a pulmonary embolism?

There are a number of ways you can help to prevent a pulmonary embolism.

Take anticoagulant medication as prescribed by your health care professional.

Wear compression stockings if recommended by your health care professional. These fit tightly round your lower legs and encourage your blood to flow more quickly around your body.

Keep active

  • After surgery, move around or do leg exercises as soon as you can. 
  • On long-haul flights and other long journeys, do leg stretching exercises: bend and straighten your legs, feet and toes every 30 minutes when you’re sitting. Stand up and walk around when you can. Do some deep breathing. It also helps if you drink water regularly. Wear flight socks.
  • If you’re at risk of developing blood clots, consult your health care professional before travelling long distances.

Changing your habits

We can all reduce our risk of having a pulmonary embolism by changing our habits. For example:

Top tip

Stopping smoking is particularly important in preventing a possible pulmonary embolism.

More information and support

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Download our pulmonary embolism PDF (219KB)

Last medically reviewed: March 2018. Due for review: March 2021

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.