Preventing Travel-Related Blood Clots
by Robin Bush
It is unclear why some people develop blood clots while traveling and others do not, but it is more likely to occur when the blood flow between your legs and your heart is reduced due to long periods of sitting. Also, if you have had recent hip or knee surgery, have or have had cancer, are obese, have had a previous blood clot, or have an inherited condition called thrombophilia where blood clots readily, you are at a higher risk.
What can you do to lower your risk when flying? Move your legs. Stand up often. Tense and loosen your calf muscles. Rotate your ankles. Walk whenever you can. Point and curls your toes alternatingly, and pull each knee toward your chest (hold for 15 seconds). Do each of these several times an hour. When driving for more than an hour, regularly stop to walk and stretch.
Consult with your doctor before you travel. Ask if you should wear compression stockings to reduce your risk.
Lastly, anyone traveling should always be alert to blood clot symptoms in themselves or others. What do you watch for? Any unusual changes in arms or legs, such as redness, warmth, swelling, or pain, mean you should seek immediate medical care. Don’t wait and wonder if it will go away on its own. Have it checked out!