Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)
As the world becomes more globalized and traveling becomes easily accessible to most people, we face conditions that may result from travel. Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), also referred to as Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), is undoubtedly a disease that can be deadly for an individual.
DVT results from many factors that can easily occur in travelers during flights lasting longer than 3 hours. The risk of DVT is not very high, occurring generally in about one in every six thousand people.
Risk factors include:
- Increased age
- Surgical procedures such as hip or knee replacements, or abdominal surgery
- Some cancers such as lung, ovarian and breast cancers
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Bowel diseases and other gastrointestinal conditions
- Varicose veins
- Flights longer than 3 hours in an air-conditioned environment that causes dehydration
DVT results from a blood clot in the deep veins of the lower extremities, producing intense pain in the calves and extreme swelling in the limbs. This swelling may progress from the feet up to the thighs. This phenomenon may not appear for up to 48 hours after a trip.
If a clot in a vein breaks off and travels to the arteries of the lung in the form of a pulmonary embolism, this may quickly lead to death or may result in many serious complications that require immediate hospitalization.
The following recommendations are specifically designed to prevent DVT:
The day before traveling:
- Make sure you walk intermittently throughout the day.
- Do not forget to take the medications you usually take.
- If you regularly use a diuretic, ask your doctor if you can skip it just for the day before travel in order to avoid dehydration.
- Take a lot of fluids 24 hours before the trip.
- Use of anti-clotting agents (anticoagulants) or anti-platelet agents may be recommended.
The day of travel:
- Make sure you use comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that is not tight around the waist.
- Avoid using high-heeled shoes to prevent swollen feet.
- Make sure you take liquids throughout the day so that you avoid becoming dehydrated.
- Avoid postures that obstruct blood flow back from your legs such as sitting with your legs bent or crossed.
- Make sure that you walk frequently along the aisle.
- If your legs are prone to swelling, elastic socks are recommended.
- Stretching exercises are recommended, such as standing on your heels.
If you have suffered previously from leg thrombosis, ask your doctor if you should take any additional precautions.