Summer vacations can turn fatal, and it doesn’t take extreme activities or trauma to ruin the fun. Hours of sitting in a plane, car, or other vehicle raise the risk of dying from a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or DVT), regardless of age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60,000-100,000 Americans die each year of blood clots that break off and reach the lungs (pulmonary embolism) while as many as 900,000 people experience life-changing symptoms from clots in the legs or arms.
Most people aren’t aware of the risk factors or that blood clots and pulmonary embolism can happen at any age. However, simple precautions can help stop blood clot formation and knowing the symptoms and quickly taking action saves lives.
How to Prevent a Blood Clot While Traveling
To prevent blood clots, Dr. Mirza recommends walking for about five minutes once an hour during long flights and rides. When it isn’t possible to stand up and walk, pump your feet up and down and stretch in your seat for about five minutes every hour. You can also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and help your blood flow.
Most blood clots form in the legs or arms. While 50% of people have no symptoms, swelling, redness, warmth to the touch, and pain or tenderness are common when symptoms are present.
If your vacation is a mix of extra activity and sedentary travel, it can be easy to confuse the symptoms of a clot with that of a sore or strained muscle. So, make sure to tell your doctor that you’ve been traveling if you have pain or tenderness you can’t explain.
If a piece of or the entire blood clot breaks free, it can travel to the lungs and is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a serious medical emergency.
Symptoms of PE include difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, lightheadedness or fainting, anxiety, coughing up blood, and chest pain that worsens with a deep breath or coughing. If you or someone you are with has any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical help immediately.
Don’t let a deadly blood clot ruin your vacation. Know your risk for DVT/PE, take the simple precautions listed above, and be alert for the signs and symptoms.
To learn if you or a loved one are at greater risk for blood clots/PE, find out more about preventing this life-threatening condition, and gain access to a free video series on DVT/PE and silent killers, visit www.preventdvtnow.com.