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 to the wall of the vein and after a while the symptoms gradually settle. However there are two serious consequences which can occur as a result of 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 pulmonary embolism. 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 such as obesity, taking the contraceptive pill, pregnancy, 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 foot muscles regularly. 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 fueling 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. Avoid too much alcohol as this has the duel effect of causing dehydration and also immobility.

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

8. Consider wearing compression stockings, the slight pressure from the stocking prevents the blood from pooling in the calf, however they do not replace the need to exercise during the flight.

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

Article submitted by Ruth Polak, the owner of
title=”http://www.costadelsol-vacationrentals.com” target=”_blank”>http://www.costadelsol-vacationrentals.com a site specializing in holiday apartments and villas on the Costa del Sol and in Rural Andalucia. You will also find lots of information about Spain and Andalalucia in particular.

By Ruth Polak

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