Deep Vein Thrombosis  (DVT) is a dangerous medical condition which has the potential to be fatal. DVT is more common than you think. According to the American Medical Association, approximately 2 million people suffer from DVT each year, more than the annual amount affected by a heart attack or stroke. Deep-Vein Thrombosis is when a blood clot develops in a deep vein. These clots can break off and travel to the lungs, causing a blockage of circulation in the lung to occur. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE) and it can that can be life threatening or fatal. 

Dr. Kuefner at the Vein Center of Orland Park has diagnosed and treated many patients with DVT. As patient advocates, we at the Vein Center of Orland Park are working to increase DVT awareness by educating our patients how to decrease risks of a DVT, recognize the signs and symptoms of a blood clot, and the importance of seeking treatment early to prevent complications from a blood clot.

Immobility and DVT Development 

Venous function is aided by muscle contractions. DVT risk is increased when sitting for prolonged periods, especially in a confined area, such as a car or plane. When less movement occurs, muscle contractions decrease, ultimately causing venous stagnation. DVT most commonly occurs within deep veins that are found on the legs. One of the common causes of DVT development that is overlooked is during travel. Be aware when traveling for long periods of time, such as an international trip or traveling by train, bus or car, that not moving increases the risk of DVT development.

Other factors that increases the risks of DVT

  • Varicose veins
  • Older age (risk increases with age)
  • A previous blood clot
  • Clotting disorder
  • Obesity
  • Limited movement (for example a leg cast)
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Recent surgery, injury or hospitalization
  • Other illnesses congestive heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease, active cancer (undergoing chemotherapy)
  • Current or recent pregnancy
  • Estrogens, Progesterone, Testosterone (Hormone Replacement Therapy or called HRT) or Birth Control Pills  

Symptoms Diagnosis and Treatment of DVT

DVT symptoms usually presents itself as swelling, pain, tenderness, and redness of the skin, usually in the legs. Unfortunately, DVT can also occur without any symptoms. If you have symptoms of DVT, it is important to seek emergency medical care. If left untreated, this condition usually worsens over time. Blood clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism (PE) to transpire. Pulmonary embolism is an emergency situation and sometimes can result in death.

Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain that increases when taking a deep breath or coughing
  • Feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • Racing heartbeat

Preventing DVT for Long Distance Travel – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One can not overemphasize the importance of early treatment and more importantly prevention for DVT. If you travel frequently or duration of travel is extended and you are uncertain about your risk of a DVT, talk to your doctor about your risks and if preventative measures are recommended. This can include the use of properly fitted medical compression stockings and/or taking medication before or during your travel to prevent blood clots. 

Avoid Sitting for Prolonged Periods

  • Walk around and stretch when possible.
  • Exercise your legs by stretching calf, raising and lower heels while keeping toes on the floor or raise and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the floor, tighten and release your leg muscles. Pulling each knee up toward your chest holding several seconds and repeat. 
  • Request an aisle seat.
  • Staying well hydrated – Drink plenty of fluids, while avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

Remember to Protect Yourself During Travel 

  • Move your legs frequently and walk around every 30-60 minutes.
  • Know the symptoms of blood clots and when to get help.
  • If you are at risk for blood clots, talk with your doctor about how to prevent them.

Contact The Vein Center of Orland Park for Questions

If you are concerned about your potential for DVT or would like to know more about best practices to avoid getting DVT, contact our office today! Wishing you all safe travels!