Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis.

By: Ruth Polak
What is a Deep Vein Thrombosis.

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in one of the deep leg veins. These veins are blood vessels which go through the calf and thigh muscles, and are not those which can be seen just below the skin. The clot that forms in the leg vein usually remains stuck tothe wall of the vein and after a while the symptoms gradually settle.

However there are two serious consequences which can occur as a resultof a deep vein thrombosis.

1,If the thrombus, or blood clot, partially or completely blocks the flow of blood through the vein then blood begins to pool and build-up below the site. This may result in chronic swelling and pain. The valves in the blood vessels may be damaged,which in turn could lead to venous hypertension and a person's ability to live a full, active life may thus be impaired.

2 A more fatal consequence of a deep veined thrombosis is a pulmonaryembolism. This occurs when the thrombus or clot breaks free, travels through the veins and eventually reaches the lungs where it is called a pulmonary embolism.

This is a potentially fatal condition which can kill within hours.

There are various factors that put people at greater risk of a DVT suchas obesity, taking the contraceptive pill,pregnacy, having an existing heart problem,or cancer, being immobile due to injury or illness, but the risk factor that concerns us here is a lengthy journey in cramped conditions.

Long journeys of more than 4 hours duration by plane, train, etc, are thought to cause a slightly increased risk of DVT.

This is probably due to sitting immobile and cramped for long periods. On plane journeys, in addition to the immobility, other factors which may possibly play a part (but are not proven) include: reduced cabin pressure; reduced oxygen levels in the plane; slight dehydration as a result of not drinking much water and drinking too many alcoholic drinks as these are often freely available.

How to Reduce Your Risk of a Deep Vein Thrombosis.

One of the most important preventative measures is to exercise your calf and footmuscles reguarly.

You can do this by:

1, Bending your legs, feet and toes every half hour or so whilst you are in a seated position.

2,Press the balls of your feet down hard against the floor or foot-rest every so often. This helps to increase the blood flow in your legs.

3, Walk up and down the aircraft every hour or so.

4,If you have a fuelling stop and are allowed to disembark then be sure to do so and spend the time moving around.

5,Drink plenty of water (to avoid dehydration).

6,Aviod too much alcohol as this has the duel effect of causing dehydration andalso immobility.

7,Do not take sleeping tablets, which cause immobility.

8,Consider wearing compression stockings, the slight pressure fromthe stocking prevents the blood from pooling in the calf, however they donot replace the need to exercise during the flight.

9,If you consider yourself to be at high risk then it maybea good idea to ask your doctor for a heparin anti-coagulantinjection before you fly.

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