Traveling this Summer? Understand Your Risk of DVT

Jul 01, 2023
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Summer is the time for travel, to see the world at its best. However, if you’re traveling more than four hours, by air, bus, or car, you could be at risk from deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot condition that begins in the large veins of your legs. 

With peak travel season upon us, it’s a time for having fun, seeing new sights, and visiting with friends and family. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that anyone traveling longer than four hours may be at increased risk of a potentially fatal blood clot condition. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can develop during the long stretches of time you spend seated on an airplane, bus, car, or train. These clots form in the deep veins in your legs. If a clot breaks free, it could travel to your lungs, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism

While the chances of DVT forming while traveling are very low, they increase when you have other DVT risk factors in play. Dr. Enrique Hernandez and the team at Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins can help you assess your deep vein health to reduce your chances of an unfortunate travel incident. 

Here’s what you need to know to understand your risk of DVT. 

What is DVT? 

Deep vein thrombosis sits behind heart attacks and strokes as the third most common vascular disease in the United States, accounting for as many as 300,000 deaths each year. Developing from the failure of valves in veins, blood clots form when blood pools, usually in the legs, thighs, and pelvis, though they can form elsewhere, too. 

If you have any conditions that lead to a condition called venous insufficiency, you could be prone to the formation of these clots, called a thrombus or collectively as thrombi. Varicose veins, seen through the skin on your legs as dark, gnarled blood vessels, are a symptom of venous insufficiency.  

These veins are superficial, near the surface, not the deep veins that define DVT. However, when valves fail in superficial veins, it’s possible valves in deep veins may be failing, too. Other symptoms of DVT include: 

  • Swelling of the lower legs and ankles
  • Discolored skin
  • Leg ulcers

Clots in superficial veins generally don’t travel to the lungs, and they can be diagnosed with a physical exam. DVT requires ultrasound testing for diagnosis. 

Am I at risk of DVT? 

While anyone could develop DVT when sitting motionless for four hours or longer, there are risk factors that increase its chances, sometimes substantially. These factors include: 

  • Being over the age of 40
  • Pregnancy and for a period after giving birth
  • Having a job that requires long periods of sitting or standing in one position
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Using tobacco products
  • Injuries or surgeries that limit deep vein blood flow
  • Family history of DVT
  • Using hormone-based therapy, including birth control pills
  • Having cancer and/or cancer treatments including chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disease or lupus

DVT diagnosis requires a review of your health history, a physical exam, and diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Dr. Hernandez can help you to assess your risk of developing DVT during travel. There are treatments and steps you can take to minimize the chances of DVT formation. 

You can book a consultation with Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins by phone or online. Schedule your appointment today.