Many Americans will travel over the winter months. Some of them are at a higher risk of forming a blood clot in a large vein. Known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), long periods of sitting, like when traveling, cause this dangerous condition.
What you need to know about DVT
You may be at an increased risk for DVT if you’ll be traveling for four hours or more in a setting where you are confined to a small space that limits movement. Sitting for a long time can slow blood flow in your leg veins, causing the blood to clump and form a clot. DVT usually occurs in the legs.
If a blood clot breaks off, it can travel through the bloodstream to the lung. There, it can block oxygenated blood from reaching the lung. Known as a pulmonary embolism (PE), this can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing. In some cases, it can be deadly.
You may be at a greater risk for developing a DVT if you:
Prevent blood clots during travel
There are steps you can take to prevent a DVT from forming during travel, including:
If you have an increased risk for DVT, talk with your doctor about extra precautions, such as:
Stay alert for DVT or PE symptoms
Blood clots can take time to form. Seek medical care if you experience any of these symptoms after you travel:
A doctor may perform tests to look for clots including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). To treat DVT or pulmonary embolism, your doctor may use medicines to dissolve the clot or devices to break up the clot.
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