The low-down on DVT
How to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis
The risk of DVT – or deep vein thrombosis – is always present when you’re inactive during a long flight or when you’re sitting down during a long road or train journey. So, to help you avoid getting this harmful condition, here is realbuzz.com’s essential guide to DVT – which includes information on what DVT is; what the symptoms of DVT are; who is more likely to suffer from it; and how to reduce the risk of getting DVT during your journey.
What is DVT?
DVT consists of a blood clot that forms in the leg, which can be potentially fatal if it travels to the lungs and causes a pulmonary embolism (PE). Inactivity is the main cause of the formation of blood clots, as sitting for long periods (four hours or more) reduces circulation in the legs by per cent, which will increase the likelihood of a clot forming.
What are the symptoms of DVT?
Only 40 to 50 per cent of people who get DVT will have obvious signs and symptoms, and so the condition often goes unrecognized. When symptoms do occur, they will vary depending on the severity of the condition.
DVT may cause pain and swelling in one or both legs, or less commonly, in an arm. There may also be tenderness in the affected area, and an increase in skin temperature compared to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of DVT can include the following:
- Tenderness in the calf (this is one of the most important signs)
- Pain in the leg
- Leg tenderness
- Swelling of the leg
- Increased warmth in the leg
- Redness in the leg
- Bluish skin discoloration
- Discomfort when the foot is pulled upward
Who is at risk from DVT?
About one in 2,000 passengers on long-distance flights will suffer a blood clot – and the figure is even smaller for passengers on long road or train journeys – so the likelihood that you’ll suffer from DVT is very low. However, the risk may be slightly higher in those over 40 years of age, and is greater in people who:
- Have had blood clots already.
- Have a strong family history of blood clots or an inherited clotting tendency.
- Are suffering from, or have had recent treatment for, cancer.
- Are being treated for heart failure and circulation problems.
- Have had recent surgery, especially on the hips or knees.
- Are pregnant or have had a baby very recently.
- Are taking the contraceptive pill or are undergoing HRT.
How can I avoid getting DVT during my journey?
Here are our top tips to reduce the risk of DVT when flying. Many of these also apply to when you’re traveling on the train or in the car for long periods of time – so make sure you keep a copy of these tips and follow them during any long-distance journey that you make!
- Get comfortable in your seat and recline as much as possible.
- Bend and straighten your legs, feet and toes while seated, and press the balls of your feet down hard against the floor to increase the blood flow in your legs.
- Do upper body and breathing exercises to improve your circulation.
- Take occasional short walks around the cabin while the plane is cruising at altitude.
- Take advantage of refueling stopovers, where it may be possible to get off the plane and walk about.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid alcohol, which in excess leads to dehydration and immobility.
- Avoid taking sleeping pills whenever possible.
Enjoy your journey
If you are ever concerned that you might have DVT or PE during a long flight or other journey, ask for medical help as soon as possible. However, if you follow our advice you should be able to avoid DVT altogether – and will be more able to relax and enjoy your journey!