Traveling and Blood Clots

Leg blood clots can develop when you don’t move your legs for prolonged periods of time, so that circulation to your legs decreases. Traveling outside of the Canton area can increase your risk of developing blood clots in the legs because of the confined spaces that you are held to for the duration of long trips.

If you develop a blood clot, your leg may develop a lingering pain and become swollen and discolored in the area where the blood clot forms. The most serious risk of a blood clot in the leg is that the clot can break loose and travel to the lung, where it can lodge. Medically termed a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung is fatal between 20 and 25 percent of the time.

Longer flights or car trips without moving your legs significantly increase the risk of developing a blood clot, with the risk of developing a clot during a 12-hour trip more than 70 times the risk of developing a clot during a four-hour flight. Being overweight, having had recent surgery and taking more than five trips during a three-month period can also increase your risk.

To prevent deep vein thrombosis, more commonly called a DVT, stand up and walk around at least every two hours during the flight or trip. Wearing compression hose, stockings you put on before you first stand up in the morning, before blood has a chance to completely fill your legs, can help prevent blood from pooling in the legs. You must put them on before getting out of bed for them to work, however. Flexing your feet and legs can help if it’s not possible to get up every two hours.

If you develop a deep vein thrombosis with a large clot that’s difficult to dissolve, you may need treatment by a vascular surgeon to remove the clot. Your vascular surgeon may also prescribe medications that break up clots, called clot busters. Medications that prevent blood from clotting may need to be taken either until the clot dissolves or for an extended period of time to protect against another clot forming.


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