Deep Vein Thrombosis...an In Flight Risk

DVT?
an in flight risk
by Cathy Gatson

Planning to do some long distance traveling this summer be it train, plane or automobile?here is some important information to pack with you to avoid this trip from being your last leg.

WHAT IS IT?
DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in the deep vein of the leg. The Deep Vein in the leg passes through the center of the leg and is surrounded by muscle. Superficial veins are on top of the muscle and are visible to the eye.

DVT's usually occur in the lower leg between the ankle and the knee areas. DVT's are serious and can be fatal. Once a blood clot occurs, it can travel through the veins and get lodged in the lungs or heart resulting in death.

Since DVT can develop very rapidly, symptoms, if any may be difficult to detect. In fact, an estimated 50% of reported DVT incidents went undetected. However, seek medical advice if during or after a flight you experience:
· Pain and warmth in the lower legs
· Prickly sensation in the legs
· Warmness or swelling of the feet or legs
· Shortness of breath
· Noticeable pain in the lower legs that worsens when walking or standing

IN FLIGHT RISK
What's the connection between travel and blood clots? Keeping the legs in a cramped position and inactive for long periods of time restricts the blood flow in the legs and increases the risk of a blood clot.

Some doctors believe that DVT is "more common today as a result of two factors, the increase in the number of frequent flyers and airline deregulation". As a result of deregulation, the distance between one airline seat to the one in front of it is no longer regulated. Many airlines moved seats closer together in order to fit more passengers on the planes thereby reducing the leg room between seats from 40 inches to 28.

Tighter seating arrangements plus existing medical conditions can equal danger.
· History of blood clots
· Cancer
· Prolonged bed rest following orthopedic surgery
· Estrogen therapy
· Obese or very tall individuals
· Birth control pills
· Recent treatment involving general anesthesia
· Cigarette smoker
· Previous thrombotic episode
· Congestive heart failure
· Pregnancy
· Dehydration
If you have any of the above conditions it is wise to seek medical advice before traveling.

STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT
Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of a DVT:
· Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration before and during your trip.
· Try to keep your thighs clear of the edge of your seat.
· Wear loose fitting clothing.
· Keep the legs uncrossed.
· Wear graduated compression hose (www.healthylegs.com or www.supporthosiery.com)
· Get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour. If you cannot stand flex your ankles up and down and curl your toes about 20 times every hour. These exercises will help stimulate blood flow through the legs.
· Aspirin - it is suggested to take an aspirin before departing and at safe intervals during your trip - consult with your doctor.

Now, the informed traveler, get fly, go fly and be safe!

Further information
www.dvt.net, www.economyclasssyndrome.net.

Cathy Gatson is a freelance writer and owner/operator of Yada Beauty Lounge, a hair and body salon in Northern California.

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