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Long-distance air travel or sitting for long periods of time can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A blood clot (thrombus) can form in superficial veins or deep veins.
In superficial veins they rarely cause problems, but in deep veins they can break loose and travel through the bloodstream, possibly blocking blood flow.
DVT most often occurs in the legs and can cause pain or swelling. If a blood clot travels through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism.
DVT can have long-lasting problems, such as damage to your leg vein. Not to mention, a pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening.
Sometimes DVT can occur without noticeable symptoms, but the more common ones are:
Blood clots from DVT can be caused by anything that prevents your blood from circulating normally. Risk factors include:
The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of DVT, but simple lifestyle changes can lower your risk. Regular exercise, losing weight, eating healthy, and quitting smoking are a great start. As well, avoid remaining in one position. Stand or walk occasionally if you sit for long periods and try to get moving as soon as possible after bed rest or surgery.
If you suspect you have DVT, speak to your health care practitioner. They may request you have a vascular ultrasound to assess blood flow through your veins and check for blood clots.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022) “Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know.” www.cdc.gov. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Healthwise Staff (2021) “Deep Vein Thrombosis.” www.myhealth.alberta.ca. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Mayo Clinic Staff (2022) “Deep vein thrombosis (DVT).” www.mayoclinic.org. Accessed October 1, 2022.