If you’re traveling this summer, do you really need to worry about dying from a blood clot mid-flight? It’s called D-V-T, which stands for deep vein thrombosis. Basically it’s the technical name for blood clotting in the legs. Here are the facts, courtesy of Rodale publications.
First, do long flights really cause blood clots? The answer is no – not if you’re healthy and active before you get on the plane. In fact, your risk of developing a clot from sitting a long time is very small. That’s according to Dr. John Philbrick, who investigated the link between travel and blood clots. The cases you hear about in the news, like U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s, are rare and that’s why they make headlines. When it happened to Cheney, he had spent 65 hours over 9 days flying and although about 380-thousand people are diagnosed with D-V-T each year, only a very small percentage suffer with it during air travel.
Basically, if you have high blood pressure, a history of blood clots in your family, if you have cancer, if you’re obese, or if you have any type of blood disorder – you’re at risk. But if you’re healthy, and if your flight is 8 hours or less, you’ll probably be fine. 8 hours isn’t enough time for a significant amount of blood to pool in your legs. So if you’re traveling from Vancouver to Alberta, you won’t have anything to worry about. But if you’re traveling from Vancouver to Paris, that’s a different story.
Here’s what you can do to help prevent DVT.
- First, don’t drink coffee or alcohol before your flight. They both cause dehydration and that causes your blood vessels to narrow and your blood to thicken, increasing the risk for DVT.
- Also, get up and stretch once every hour. Keeping your hamstrings loose keeps the blood circulating in your body. So try this stretch: stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, then bend down, grab your calves, and hold this stretch for five seconds.