Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Should You Be Worried About “Economy Class Syndrome”?

Concerns about blood clots as a result of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) increase during summer travel season. Blood clots can be dangerous, even fatal – but they can be prevented.

It’s the height of the summer and for many, July marks the beginning of travel season. It’s the time spent en route to vacation destinations that lead to concerns about “economy class syndrome,” a term used to describe leg symptoms that can occur as a result of long periods of immobility.

These extended periods of immobility can be associated with deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, a blood clot in the deep vein system. DVT can be cause for concern because the clot could break free from the vein wall and enter into the blood stream, traveling to the lungs and become a PE (pulmonary embolism), or to the brain and result in a stroke.

Though a familiar term to many, “economy class syndrome,” is actually a misnomer. DVT can occur in a plane, train or automobile, regardless of what class you’re sitting in. The point is that prolonged immobility can slow down circulation and lead to blood pooling in the legs, which significantly increases the risk of DVT.

Prevent DVT During Summer Travel

If you’re planning to go on a long flight (or road trip, for that matter), you can minimize the risk of DVT. First, stay hydrated. Then, make a point of walking in the aisles (or at the rest stop) occasionally. Finally, periodically do simple toe-tap exercises – that means tapping the feet for a minute or two, going back and forth between heels and toes. This “foot pump” squeezes the deep veins in the legs, forcing the blood to circulate.

By increasing mobility and making healthy blood flow a priority while you travel, you can help keep blood clots at bay this summer – and any time of year.

Are you at risk for DVT? Visit the Vein Healthcare Center to learn about the risks and steps toward prevention.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention also offers more information about Deep Vein Thrombosis and its symptoms and risk factors.

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