Archive for the ‘Blood Clots’ Category

As summer vacation rapidly approaches, many of us are planning to travel on commercial aircraft. It has long been known that, with air travel, there is a risk of forming blood clots in the legs, a condition called deep vein thrombosis. Fortunately, this is not very common during travel, but there are other situations that place a patient at risk for DVT that I will also discuss.
The major problem associated with DVT is that part or all of a clot may come loose and travel to the heart and, from there, directly to the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism, and it can be very serious and sometimes fatal. It is estimated that about 350,000 Americans a year are affected by DVT or pulmonary embolism.

Certain factors can make one more prone to this condition:

– Sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or, especially, flying

– Prolonged bed rest, such as during hospital stays or chronic illness at home

– Recent surgery or injury involving major broken bones

– Pregnancy

– Blood clotting disorders

– Cancer

– A history of DVT

– Obesity

– Cigarette smoking

Symptoms of DVT may include swelling in a leg (usually only one is involved); leg pain, usually in the calf; and redness or warmth over the problem area.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism are unexplained shortness of breath or chest pain; a feeling of light-headedness or dizziness; and coughing up blood.

For most healthy adults, DVT is very rare. If you feel that you are at risk, or to prevent a recurrent episode, consider the following:

– Take precautions while traveling. Stay well hydrated with nonalcoholic drinks. Take hourly breaks from sitting to walk around, or at least exercise your calf muscles while seated.

– Make healthy changes, such as losing weight and stopping smoking.

– Follow the instructions from your doctor if you have recently had surgery or a serious illness.

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