On March 14th, 2011, tennis star Serena Williams was hospitalized for a pulmonary embolism, a serious health problem for which she has been to the hospital several times over the past week. A pulmonary embolism (PE) is caused by a blockage that travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, obstructing the blood flow.
Usually the clot travels from elsewhere in the body – often from the legs. Cancer, prolonged bed rest or lack of movement can all increase the risks of PE. The condition is often treated with anticoagulants and sometimes surgery. Fortunately, Williams was diagnosed and treated, and she is now reportedly at home recuperating.
When you are traveling or recovering from surgery, remember the risks of developing blood clots in the legs, which can result in PE. Take preventive steps if you will be sitting for a long time. According to the Mayo clinic, preventive steps include:
- Taking a walk.
- Exercising while you sit.
- Drinking lots of fluids.
- Wearing compression stockings.
Compression stockings, or support stockings, help prevent PE by steadily squeezing your legs, promoting the circulation of blood. The gentle, graduated pressure of support stockings helps your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently.
Compression stockings help tired legs and are a good idea for anyone to wear when movement will be limited.