Deep Venous Thrombosis
DVT stands for deep venous thrombosis, which is the formation of clots in the veins in the legs due to stasis of the blood. The risk of a DVT is low , estimated to be about 1 in 4.5-6,000, but it can be a serious medical problem. The media has dubbed it "Economy Class Syndrome", however, it may occur after travelling in any class of travel or after long trips in cars, buses & trains. It relates to the compression of blood vessels in a situation where there may be poor blood flow, ie during long periods of inactivity. Any muscular ACTIVITY promotes blood flow through arteries & veins.
There are three easy steps you can take to reduce the risk.
1. Where possible, ask your travel agent about a stopover.
2 . Some people are at greater risk than others.
· Those travelling longer than 12 hours
· Age over 40 years
· Family history of abnormal clotting
· Recent major surgery or illness
· Pregnancy or within 6 weeks of delivery
· Those travelling with a plaster cast
· Overweight travellers
Categories of risk are based on the number of risk factors. Anyone with a history of a past thrombotic episode is considered high risk even if there are no other risk factors present.
High risk travellers need to visit a doctor before they go - compression stockings may be indicated & there are modern anticoagulants available.
Aspirin helps prevent arterial clotting but is not very good at preventing venous clotting. It can be dangerous if used in some individuals.
3. Keep SAFE (Support, Activity, Fluids, Ensure no pressure) on the plane remember the following recommendations
· If at risk consider vascular Support with the use of compression stockings.
· Keep Active during your journey - utilise stops to walk about. Have an exercise routine while seated. Check out the guide in the airline literature.
· Keep your Fluids up. Travelling at altitude can be dehydrating. Minimise dehydration by drinking 2 o 3 glasses of water per sector. Do keep your alcohol & coffee intake to a minimum. Both are dehydrating.
· Ensure there is nothing pressing on your calf muscles.
4. Sedatives such as temazepam or antihistamines should be avoided during travel.
They should only be used at the destination or after returning home.