Deep Vein Thrombosis :: 4 hour travel doubles deep vein thrombosis risk

Deep vein thrombosis is a common but difficult to detect illness that can be fatal if not treated effectively. According to the American Heart Association, more than two million Americans develop deep vein thrombosis annually.

The chances of developing deep vein thrombosis increases after traveling for four hours or more, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a study estimating one in 6,000 long-haul passengers is at risk.

Deep vein thrombosis is caused by blood clots in blood vessels that form in veins where blood flow is sluggish or has been disturbed, in pockets in the calf’s deep veins, or in veins that have been traumatized. Symptoms include swelling and tenderness of the calf or thigh, and possibly warmth. Only 23?50% of patients experience symptoms, so it’s often “silent”.

Tall people whose legs are jammed in economy class and the very short whose feet do not touch the ground are particularly vulnerable to potentially dangerous blood clots linked to immobility during travel. The obese, women on birth control pills and those with blood clotting disorders are also more susceptible, as are frequent travelers and those who take very long journeys.

“There is an increased risk of venous thromboembolism during travel where the passenger is seated and immobile over four hours, whether in a plane, train, bus or car,” said Catherine Le Gales-Camus, WHO assistant director-general for non-communicable disease and mental health.

Without regular muscle contractions, blood starts to pool in the legs and can create conditions for a clot, or thrombus, to develop in deep veins. Thrombosis can be symptom-free or trigger cramps, soreness and swelling in affected areas.

Early and regular ambulation (walking) is a treatment that predates anticoagulants and is still recognized and used today. Walking activates the body’s muscle pumps, increasing venous velocity and preventing stasis.

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