Memorial Day weekend includes some of the busiest days for travel. Millions will travel great distances by car, rail or plane to their desired vacation destinations. Despite the mode of transportation, people often spend an extensive amount of time sitting while in transit. This prolonged period of inactivity can lead to the formation of blood clots or complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Deep vein thrombosis, dubbed “Economy Class Syndrome” or “Traveler’s Thrombosis,” occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins of the leg, obstructing the flow of blood to the heart. Clots are more likely to develop when legs are hanging down, causing blood to flow slowly and collect. Anyone flying or driving for four hours or more without mobilization are at risk for developing them.
Symptoms of DVT can be mild and may include swelling of the calf or long-term discomfort. However, symptoms can also be fatal as deep vein thrombosis can develop into a more severe, sometimes fatal condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Pulmonary embolisms form when blood clots travel from the veins in the legs and eventually becomes lodged in the blood vessels going to the lungs. Symptoms include chest pains, difficulty breathing, feeling lightheaded or fainting, coughing up blood, anxiety or irregular heartbeat. If these symptoms present themselves, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Some people are more prone to developing deep vein thrombosis- related conditions than others. Those with an increased risk include people who are obese, over the age of 40, have varicose veins, a family history of blood clots, are using contraceptives such as birth control containing estrogen, have had recent surgery, hormone replacement therapy, recent severe illnesses such as pneumonia, recent cancer treatment and have limited mobility due to a leg cast.
There are many steps one can take to reduce risks. While traveling during a long journey, it is recommended to wear comfortable and loose clothing, take breaks and walk around whenever you can, drink water, purchase flight socks, do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol or take sleeping pills. It also highly advised to take a walk after a long trip to get your circulation going.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.