Vein thrombosis en route: risk in an airplane, risk in a car

Deep vein thrombosis is a disease in which blood clots form in the lumen of a blood vessel, usually in the legs, and prevent the blood from flowing properly. It usually occurs as a comorbid disease in people with diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, as well as a possible complication after surgery or childbirth.

The disease causes a serious complication of pulmonary embolism, so the diagnosis is extremely important for the patient.

Depending on the occurrence, thrombosis is divided into:

  • distal – affects the distal part of the limb, occurs in the veins of the calf and below;
  • proximal – applies to the popliteal, femoral and iliac veins;
  • painful swelling – is an acute thrombosis of most veins in a limb, with pain and swelling.

Diagnosis of thrombosis in the early stages is not easy, but contributing factors such as previous surgery, sedentary lifestyle and prolonged immobilization can herald the development of the disease. Moreover symptoms suggestive of developing deep vein thrombosis to be:

  • swelling of limbs
  • local pain in the limbs when touched,
  • pale or red skin
  • mild fever.

One of the most serious complications of thrombosis is: blockage artery pulmonary† A detached thrombus from the wall of the venous vessel reaches the lungs causing an immediate life-threatening condition. There is then a stabbing pain in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing and loss of consciousness. Pulmonary embolism is fatal.

Airplane flight for patients with established venous disease is the more dangerous the longer the flight takes. The risk group mainly includes obese over-50s, but also pregnant women and smokers. In addition, recent trauma (fracture), including immobilization, as well as taking oral contraceptives are also considered risk factors.

Studies have shown that a flight of less than two hours slightly increases the risk of thrombosis, but a flight of more than eight hours causes that the risk quadrupled

Air travel increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis due to several factors. First, it affects it difference pressurewhich is lowered during flight. The low pressure equalized in the passenger compartment causes the expansion of the lumen of the veins, thus slowing down blood circulation. The blood that circulates more slowly in the bloodstream thickens, increasing the chance of a clot. In addition, the plane is sufficient short humidityand longer dry air time is conducive to dehydration of the body.

Another contributing factor to the onset of thrombosis is, of course, the sitting position for a long flight time and limited movement. This leads to stagnation venousespecially in the lower extremities.

A previous episode of venous thrombosis increases the risk of recurrence after traveling by air, which of course does not mean that it should be given up. First of all, you should consult your doctor about your decision to fly and then prepare well for your trip.

If the doctor decides, patients will take before the flight thinning drugs bloodto minimize the risk of thrombosis.

To travel patient should wear loose, airy clothing – mainly trousers that do not compress the pelvis and knee.

It is worth choosing a place on the plane where you can get up during the trip and to walkto stimulate blood circulation.

Apart from that you should stay well hydrated – both before the flight and during the journey.

For patients with deep vein thrombosis are available compression stockingswhich, by exerting sufficient pressure on the limb, reduce the diameter of the veins and allow good closure of the venous valves. Patients with thrombosis can wear such stockings during the flight.

Although there is no pressure difference when traveling by car, it should be emphasized that: Long car journeys can also increase the risk of thrombosis† When we go on holiday, we often travel several hours. It is often advisable for persons at risk to stop to “stretch the legs” after a thrombosis incident. during breaks you have to walk and also perform simple gymnastics of the lower limbs: move your fingers, rotate your foot, bend your legs at the knee joints. Following the above tips for adequate hydration and comfortable clothing for ten minutes every few hours – will reduce the risk of venous thrombosis, including when traveling by car.


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