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Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis During Summer Travel

As you pack your bags for your summer vacation, keep these important vein health tips in mind. Summer is peak travel time, as we take advantage of the warmer months to explore faraway destinations. Yet as we board planes, trains, and cars to trek to those places this summer, it’s important to be aware that we may put ourselves at a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). That’s because sitting in a cramped space for four hours or more hinders circulation in the legs.  When that happens, a blood clot (thrombosis) can form in the deep veins of the lower extremities, causing pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness around the affected area in the calf or thigh. The skin may also feel warm to the touch.  Sometimes, the clot may dissolve on its own. However, if it doesn’t, the clot could break away and settle in the lungs as a pulmonary embolism — a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Does that mean you should avoid long-trips during the summer? Not at all. Following some simple tips will keep your veins healthy so you can enjoy your downtime. How to Prevent DVT When Traveling Staying sedentary for long periods is one risk factor for DVT. People who have a clotting disorder or a family or personal history of blood clots are at greater risk of DVT. Therefore, it’s a good idea to discuss your risk factors with a vein specialist before you travel a great distance on a plane or in a car.  You can decrease your chance of DVT during a long journey if you take these five preventative steps. Keep them in mind as you pack your suitcases.

  1. Get Up and Move Around. If traveling in a car, stop regularly to take short strolls. This helps to stretch the leg muscles and keep the blood flowing. You can do the same on a plane; try to reserve an aisle seat so you can easily walk up and down the aisle at least every two to three hours. When seated, exercise your calf muscles by raising and lowering your heels while your toes remain on the floor. With your heels on the floor, lift and lower your heels. Finally, don’t cross your legs, as this will block circulation.
  2. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes. Snug-fitting clothes only hamper blood flow. Less restrictive clothing not only ensures your comfort during a long trip, but helps maintain proper circulation.
  3. Buy a Pair of Compression Stockings. Available in most drugstores or medical supply outlets, compression stockings are made of strong elastic fibers that squeeze the veins in the legs so blood doesn’t pool and form a clot. Compression garments come in two types: up to the knee or up to the thigh. Choose the one you feel most comfortable wearing during a long journey, and make sure it fits properly.
  4. Stay Hydrated. Water aids circulation, so have a water bottle handy to sip from frequently. However, you want to avoid fluids like caffeine and alcohol — they act as diuretics, which interferes with hydration.
  5. Take Medications. If you previously experienced DVT events and are on a blood thinning medication like Warfarin, you can travel safely. Otherwise, get permission from your physician if you had a DVT episode less than two weeks prior to your trip.

Before You Board the Plane… Concerned about the possibility of DVT during a long journey? Speak to one of the vein specialists at Vascular and Interventional Associates Vein Center. We can go over your risk profile and offer guidance on how to maintain healthy veins while you travel. Your vacation should be a time of relaxation, and we can ensure that it is. Book an appointment today.

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