Pulmonary embolism

What can I do to avoid getting a pulmonary embolism?

On this page we explain what you can do to avoid getting a pulmonary embolism.

The best way to prevent a pulmonary embolism is to try and stop blood clots forming in your veins. Read more about the risk factors for having a pulmonary embolism.

How to prevent blood clots

We can all reduce our risk of blood clotting by changing our habits to lead a healthier lifestyle:

How to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

As pulmonary embolism is often caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it’s important to take steps to prevent DVT.

If you're being treated in hospital for another condition, your medical team will take steps to prevent you getting DVT. After surgery, you should move around or do leg exercises as soon as this is safe.

There are things you can do to prevent a travel-related DVT on long-haul journeys:

  • wear loose, comfortable clothes
  • do leg stretching exercises: bend and straighten your legs, feet and toes every 30 minutes when you’re sitting
  • walk around whenever you can
  • wear flight socks
  • avoid dehydration

If you’re at risk of developing blood clots, consult your health care professional before travelling long distances. The NHS has a useful webpage on how to prevent DVT when you travel.

Should I wear compression stockings?

Compression stockings fit tightly round your lower legs and encourage your blood to flow more quickly around your body. You should wear them only if they are prescribed to you by a health care professional.

 Download our pulmonary embolism information (PDF, 385 KB)

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.