South Florida Vascular Associates South Florida Vascular Associates

Monday, December 14, 2015

Extensive Holiday Travel Can Put You at Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis

The holiday season is upon us and during the holidays many of us plan long distance trips to visit family and friends either by car or by plane that may require many hours of sitting.

Sitting on a plane or in a car for long periods of time can put you at risk for developing a serious blood clot known as a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). We even have a name for a DVT that occurs as a result of a lengthy flight, "Economy Class Syndrome".

The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that one in 1,000 people develop DVT each year. A DVT is the development of a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs. When the circulation of the blood slows down due to inactivity, illness, or injury, blood can accumulate or "pool," which provides an ideal setting for clot formation. Blood clots in deep veins can grow in size, break loose, and then travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, resulting in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Travelling on long trips, sitting at a desk all day or even being bed-ridden for a long period of time can cause blood clots to form. If you are a person who travels or sits a lot, we encourage you to be aware of these potential symptoms below and seek medical attention immediately.

Generalized swelling of the affected leg
Affected leg may be larger than the other leg
Affected leg may feel warm and be redder than the other leg
Pain or tenderness in the calf or thigh when it is touched or squeezed or with movement or      standing. Calf or thigh pain may become constant and increase with squeezing or movement.

Below are some helpful tips to help keep your blood circulating during your travels

If travelling by car, stop every couple of hours and get out and walk around. If you're on a plane, try to get up and walk every 30-60 minutes, if possible.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other substances that may produce dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids – preferably water.
While sitting on the plane or in the car, try to raise your toes and flex your calves. This motion causes your calf muscles to contract and promotes the flow of blood in the veins in the legs. This can help prevent blood from pooling and forming a clot.

If you know that you have risk factors for DVT, consider talking with your physician before travelling to discuss whether compression stockings for your legs are needed.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit your favorite people in far-away places. Enjoy yourself, but while enroute, be sure to perform the simple exercises listed above to keep your blood circulating and your leg veins healthy.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

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