Preventing Travel-Related Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) As a Frequent Traveler, Flight Attendant, or Pilot
Let's face it, our ancestors would be confused in the least, or appalled at most, by the culture of air travel. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure ancient people would be amazed with the ingenuity of how we travel, but they would also get to see how we voluntarily shuffle ourselves through gates on a strict schedule, clamor into cramped metal chambers, sit inches away from each other, and limit our mobility for hours and hours eating tasteless meals.
My main point is this: human beings are simply not designed to sit in these tight, cramped quarters in economy class air travel on a regular basis. And travel-related Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is one reminder!
But we simply can't refuse to fly. There are places to be, things to see, people to greet, and jobs to do. Our world is a complex one and cheap travel is in high demand. So, no matter how we feel about air travel, most of us will end up on an airplane at some point, and many of us are on airplanes on a weekly - or even daily - basis.
And the good news is that with a little education and awareness, DVT can be prevented with some easy common sense tips and compression therapy stockings.
What can you do to prevent travel-related DVT, those elusive deep blood clots that affect somewhere around 350,0000 people in the United States each year? Here are some tips:
1) Sit in an aisle seat - This serves you many benefits in air travel, especially for long flights. You have easy access to the aisle where you can get up to use the lavatory, walk around and stretch. A frequent traveler has likely spent hours of flighttime gazing out windows and could tell you in detail what every airport looks like, so unless you really have a preference to look at things while you fly, do your legs a favor and give yourself an aisle seat.
2) Stay Fit - Obesity increases the risk of developing DVT. Extra weight puts pressure on veins, making it more difficult for the blood the flow.
3) Stop Smoking - There are a million reasons to quit smoking, but since smoking affects blood pressure, it can have an effect on blood flow, especially in aging folks sitting for hours in cramped airplanes.
4) Take breaks to stand and stretch - It's not a bad idea every hour or two to stand up. Sitting dormant in an airplane seat encourages stiffness and stifled blood flow, so every hour or two it's a good idea to stand up and do a couple simple stretches. There's not much room, but walking a few paces helps as well to keep the heart ticking and the blood moving.
5) Avoid airplane food - Just kidding. Eat all the pretzels you want. This really has nothing to do with DVT, but I'm glad you're paying attention. 🙂
6) Wear Compression Stockings - JUZO, Sigvaris, and Jobst all provide fashionable compression hosiery, stockings, and socks to suit the needs of travelers - both causal and professional.
The use of compression garments for legs has been clinically proven to help prevent DVT from forming with graduated compression - a special design in manufacturing of compression therapy leggings that starts with high compression at the ankle and decreases up the leg. This keeps the blood moving upward as intended without pooling in the leg (something tight-fitting clothes and socks may do during flights.) A properly sized, medical grade compression garment can help prevent aching and swelling in the legs while preventing DVT.
For more information on DVT and DVT Awareness, visit PreventDVT.com.