deep vein thrombosis

Thrombosis occurs when the blood changes from a liquid to a solid state thereby producing a clot. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to the formation of a thrombus (blood clot) that develops in one of the major deep veins (a vein that accompanies an artery) of the body, usually in the leg (thigh or calf). A clot blocks blood circulation through these veins, which carry blood from the lower body back to the heart. Deep vein thrombosis causes pain, swelling and possible complications if it reaches the lungs. When a blood clot blocks blood flow to an artery in the heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke may result.

According to the National Institutes of Health, two million Americans annually develop a condition called deep vein thrombosis. We can say that deep vein thrombosis is comparatively rare, affecting less than two people in every thousand, mainly older people. The most common veins affected by DVT are those of the legs or within the pelvis (lower abdomen).

Image source: www.uchospitals.edu

Causes of Deep vein thrombosis

The list of risk factors mentioned for DVT in various sources includes:

  • Smoking
  • Elderly
  • Overweight
  • Aeroplane travel
  • Injury or surgical recovery
  • Childbirth
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Poor circulation
  • Varicose veins
  • Long-term inactivity
  • Extended bed rest
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of Deep vein thrombosis

  • swelling of the leg
  • localisedpain or tenderness in the leg
  • feeling of increased warmth in the area of the leg that is swollen or that hurts
  • red or discolored skin

Localised pain or tenderness within a calf or thigh muscle is a possible symptom of DVT. Among more serious symptoms are the onset of a cough, breathlessness, increased heart rate, chest pain or palpitations.

Treatment of Deep vein thrombosis

DVT is usually treated with anticoagulants (blood thinners). The main aim of therapy is to prevent pulmonary embolism, and anticoagulation treatment with heparin and warfarin is usually commenced. Exercising the legs can reduce risk. Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and sitting with your legs crossed. Wear elastic compression stockings to improve blood circulation. Compression stockings may also reduce swelling associated with long haul flights. Do not wear socks or tights that are too restrictive.

Deep vein thrombosis is not connected only with older people. It is also often associated with air travel and long journeys by car, train or coach, because of prolonged immobility. What is traveled related deep vein thrombosis?

Travel related deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis is not connected only with older people. New Zealand DVT research which was accomplished in 2003 announced that 1% of long-haul air passengers suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis. This is four people on every jumbo jet. Traveled related deep vein thrombosis is known as “Economy Class Syndrome”or “travellers’ thrombosis” . Deep vein thrombosis is caused by sitting rigidly for too long – usually on lengthy intercontinental flights. Travellers’ thrombosis has been known to affect passengers in buses, trains, cars, trucks.

DVT occurs when large blood clots form in deep veins in the legs which move on to block the blood vessels of vital organs. DVT usually makes its presence known by an intense pain in the affected calf. Medical attention should be sought immediately if this occurs, especially after a long journey. A deep vein thrombosis can occur some days or even weeks after a trip.

To prevent DVT from occuring during or after an airplane flight, it’s recommended that passengers try to get up and walk up and down or try to exercise the calf muscles by rotating ankles at least every hour on long journeys. Remedies suggested include taking Aspirin as a blood-thinner before long flights. Research has shown that correctly fitting anti-thrombosis stockings increase blood flow, thus lowering the risk of DVT.

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Other prevention measurements: drink adequate fluids, avoid alcohol as it increases the stickiness of platelets and promotes fluid loss, avoid crossing legs or prolonged awkward hip or knee positions whenever seated, wear loose fitting clothing when traveling.