Vacation journey can convey pleasure and connection, in addition to hassles and stress. It’s possible you’ll be notably apprehensive about touring in case you’re at a better danger for venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clots that type in your veins.
Sitting for prolonged intervals of time will increase the chance for VTE, which might take the type of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a clot that sometimes types within the deep veins of the legs, probably inflicting painful signs within the space. A clot might also journey to your lungs and limit or lower off blood move, referred to as pulmonary embolism (PE) — a probably life-threatening emergency.
Whereas it’s vital to take the chance for blood clots significantly if in case you have underlying danger elements, most individuals can journey with none undue danger for VTE, in keeping with David Garcia, MD, a professor of hematology on the College of Washington College of Drugs in Seattle. “Absolutely the danger of a blood clot because of air journey goes to be small for nearly everybody,” he says, noting that air journey seems to hold a better danger for VTE than different types of transportation.
The general danger for symptomatic DVT linked to air journey seems to be lower than 1 p.c, Dr. Garcia says, based mostly on critiques of many research on the topic. However one evaluation discovered that the general incidence of DVT from long-haul flights — whether or not or not there have been signs — could also be as excessive as 3 to 12 p.c.
It’s possible you’ll be at a better danger for VTE if any of the next conditions or situations apply to you, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC):
- Private or household historical past of blood clots
- Current hospitalization, surgical procedure, or harm
- Present or latest being pregnant
- Taking oral contraception tablets or estrogen-based hormone substitute remedy
- Most cancers or present process chemotherapy
- Congestive coronary heart failure
- Inflammatory bowel illness
- Weight problems
- Older age
Whereas there’s no strategy to completely keep away from blood clots whereas touring, some easy steps could scale back your danger for VTE throughout and instantly after journey — and possibly simply as importantly, offer you peace of thoughts. Right here’s what you are able to do to take worrying about blood clots off your itinerary.
1. Keep Hydrated
Whenever you’re dehydrated, your blood vessels slim and your blood thickens, growing your danger for blood clots, in keeping with the American Coronary heart Affiliation. Staying hydrated could be a specific problem when touring, since you could not have quick access to water or different drinks always. That’s why it’s vital to plan forward — equivalent to by filling up an empty water bottle when you get by means of safety on the airport or stocking bottled water for a protracted automobile journey.
It’s additionally vital to keep away from drinks that may result in dehydration if you journey. Which means not ingesting greater than a small quantity of alcohol, in keeping with Garcia, and in addition not ingesting giant quantities of soda.
2. Break Up Your Journey
Since sitting for longer intervals will increase the chance for VTE, it stands to motive that shorter journeys pose much less of a danger, Garcia says. That is notably true in relation to air journey — the one type of journey that has been undoubtedly linked to a better danger for blood clots, in keeping with Garcia.
“Individuals who journey on flights of greater than 4 to 5 hours have a slight enhance within the danger of blood clots,” says Garcia. “Fortuitously, the hazards they pose are often not going to lead to disaster throughout the span of two to 6 hours.”
When you expertise signs of a blood clot whereas touring, it’s vital to hunt medical care as quickly as attainable — one more reason why shorter journeys could also be interesting to some folks. “Don’t test into your resort,” says Garcia, in case you expertise attainable signs of VTE. “Don’t delay. Go get care immediately after touchdown.”
3. Get Up and Transfer
Simply since you’re on a airplane — or practice, bus, or boat — for an prolonged interval doesn’t imply you could keep glued to your seat. When attainable, the CDC recommends standing up and, if house permits, strolling round often, ideally no less than each two to a few hours. When you’re touring by automobile, plan to take breaks for stretching and strolling round.
Garcia says that different types of transportation could not pose the identical degree of danger for VTE as air journey as a result of among the danger linked to air journey might be because of decrease oxygen ranges in airplane cabins. Nonetheless, the potential advantages of motion apply to any type of journey that includes prolonged sitting.
4. Do Leg Workout routines in Your Seat
When you can’t rise up and transfer for some motive — or if you would like much more motion — you possibly can transfer your legs round when you’re in your seat. The CDC suggests the next seated workout routines to scale back your blood clot danger:
- Elevate and decrease your heels, holding your toes on the ground.
- Elevate and decrease your toes, holding your heels on the ground.
- Tighten and launch your leg muscular tissues (sure areas or your entire leg).
Stretching out your legs in entrance of you can be a good suggestion, Garcia says, however this might not be attainable in lots of journey conditions.
5. Put on Compression Stockings
Correctly fitted compression stockings are prone to scale back the chance for blood clots whereas touring, says Garcia — in reality, this was the conclusion of a analysis overview for which he offered commentary. Garcia compares compression stockings to the life vest discovered beneath your seat on a airplane — unlikely to make a distinction on any given flight however offering reassurance to many individuals.
6. Take Drugs as Prescribed
It goes with out saying that if you journey, you shouldn’t let it disrupt taking any common drugs — particularly anticoagulants (blood thinners), taken to scale back your danger for blood clots, or much less highly effective clot-preventing antiplatelet medication like aspirin. However for individuals who aren’t taking aspirin often on their physician’s recommendation, taking it if you journey to forestall clots just isn’t really helpful, in keeping with the CDC.
When you take a blood thinner, you need to really feel protected touring, says Garcia. “One thing I get requested loads is: Do I nonetheless need to be involved about blood clots if I’m taking a blood thinner? And the reply is completely not,” he says. “No matter danger air journey would possibly add goes to be washed out fully by the drug’s results.” That doesn’t imply your danger for blood clots is zero, however it does imply you shouldn’t be unduly apprehensive about this danger, particularly in case you take different precautions to forestall blood clots if you journey.