3 Tips to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis During Vacation
When you are sitting on a plane (or in a car) for long periods of time not only can it be uncomfortable, but can be bad for your health. A few weeks ago we discussed the importance of shifting our patients' weight (from the left side to the right) regularly during medical transport to relieve discomfort and increase circulation. Well, we also do this to prevent a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
DVT is when a blood clot forms deep in the body, typically in your legs. DVT can be painful, but sometimes comes with no symptoms. It is a serious health risk because the clot can break off and travel through the blood stream. The clot can travel to the lungs and block blood flow, causing a condition known as pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT is most commonly caused by long periods of inactivity (like on international flights or long distance medical transport).
There are certain people who are at higher risk for developing DVT: those who have had a DVT before; people who have certain heart diseases, cancer, or a blood clotting disorder; pregnant women; smokers; people who are obese; women on birth control; older patients; and patients who have recently experiences trauma or undergone surgery. If you have one of these risk factors you should consult a doctor before taking a long trip in the car or on a plane.
If you are like the 69% of Americans that travel over the summer, chances are you will be flying or driving to your favorite vacation destinations this summer. Whether you are at high risk or not, here are 3 things you should do to prevent DVT when on a long flight or road trip.
1. Get moving – If you are sitting on a plane or in the car for more than two hours, you should get up and walk around at least once every hour. It may take you a little longer to get to your destination by car, but we promise it's worth the time! If you are at high risk, you should stay standing for 5-10 minutes, stretch, and do light leg exercises (if possible). If you are traveling with someone who is immobile you can help him or her by massaging and stretching their legs, helping them with ankle rolls, and shifting them from side to side. We reposition our patients on medical motor coaches during every refueling break and encourage them to walk the cabinet while we are stoppped.
2. Stay hydrated – Staying hydrated promotes healthy blood flow. It can be difficult to stay hydrated while you are flying or driving, but since you'll be getting up every hour anyways, you can take advantage of the pit stops.
3. Obey doctor's orders – If you are at high risk, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner or tell you to take an over the counter medication. He or she may also advise you to where compression socks or stockings. Make sure you take the medication as prescribed and put on your stockings before boarding the plane or hopping in the car. You should also wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoid alcohol and sleeping pills, and do anti-DVT exercises: Raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes on the floor. Repeat 10 times. Then, raise and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the floor. Repeat 10 times. Do this at least every half hour.
DVT is a serious condition and can be prevented with these three easy steps. During all of our medical transports we do everything we can to prevent DVT in our patients and by doing these three things you can too. Whether you're traveling in the car or on a plane this summer, make sure you travel safely!
For more travel safety tips or if you are in need of medical transport, visit our website or give us a call at 888-359-1911. You can also get your a no-obligation air medical transport quote here.