Prevent Blood Clots While Traveling

If you plan to travel in the near future, it’s important to be aware of the potential for a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis. When you sit for a long period of time – particularly while traveling – your risk of a blood clot increases.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops in the body’s deep veins, including those in the legs, arms or pelvis. It most commonly occurs in the leg veins.

Blood clots often go away on their own. However, it’s important to know that blood clots can cause serious health problems when they break off and travel to the lungs. This causes a potentially fatal condition known as a pulmonary embolism.

Who is at risk for blood clots?

Most people are at low risk for a blood clot. However, your risk increases if you are obese, are over the age of 40, have limited mobility, or have a personal or family history of blood clots.

You are also at greater risk if you are undergoing cancer treatment, recently had surgery, are pregnant or recently gave birth, have varicose veins, or have had a catheter inserted into a large vein.

Certain medications can also increase your risk for blood clots, include estrogen-containing birth control methods and hormone replacement therapy for menopause.

If you have any of these risk factors and plan to travel, talk to your doctor about preventative measures you can take.

How to prevent blood clots while traveling

In addition to consulting your physician, there are several ways you can reduce your chances of a blood clot while traveling. The key is to move around as often as possible. If you are on a long flight, road trip or train ride, try to get up and walk every two to three hours.

You can also increase blood flow to your legs while sitting in your seat. Stretch your leg muscles or pull one knee at a time toward your chest and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat up to 10 times on each leg.

Your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings as well.

Finally, be sure to take any medications you are prescribed – such as blood thinners – as directed.

Symptoms of DVT

It’s important to know the warning signs of DVT so you can get prompt medical attention.

The symptoms of a blood clot include swelling or unexplained pain in the arms or legs, and skin that is red or warm to the touch.

A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency and you should call 911 or seek medical care immediately. The symptoms include trouble breathing, a fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, anxiety, and coughing up blood.

Remember, stay active when traveling and if you have any concerns about blood clots, consult your physician before you go.

For more information about vascular surgery at Pardee, visit our website.


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