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What is Travelers DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)?

What is Travelers DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)? DVT Treatment in Buffalo Niagara and Southern Ontario, Canada

About 42% of adults in The United States reported traveling by air for leisure trips between August 2008 and July 2009.  The percentage of air travelers increases to 48% among American adults who traveled for business purposes in that 12 month period.   

Prolonged immobility such as during a long journey by car, train or air travel increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, superficial vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.  This risk is much the same when traveling by car, bus, or plane.  

Contrary to popular opinion, the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis in travelers is the same when travel is in economy or business class.  People who travel in business class have a false sense of security that more comfortable seats and  extension of seats in a reclining mode in business class reduces their likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis.  This is not true.

It has been calculated that 1 person in every 7 planes that leave JFK airport will develop a deep vein clot before that plane lands at its destination.  This data is  fromEpidemiology, risk factors and sequelae of venous thromboembolism. By P Wong and colleagues, Phlebology 2012; Suplement 2: pages 2-11.

Of importance, the incidence of thrombosis in travelers is approximately equally distributed between below knee deep vein thrombosis, above knee deep vein thrombosis, and superficial vein thrombophlebitis.

Epidemiological studies also show that there is an increased risk when flights are longer than four hours and the risk for the deep vein thrombosis is higher for patients taking flights with multiple stops. The time of onset for travelers DVT is more than 24 hours after completing the flight for 80% of cases. One third of pulmonary embolism episodes occur 24 hours after landing.

For evaluation and treatment of leg swelling of immediate onset following travel, go to the nearest emergency room and request a diagnostic venous Doppler study.

Ways to avoid Traveler's DVT:

1. While driving long distances, break up the trip with frequent rest stops every two hours to walk. This means walking for one or two minutes, walking around the car or exercising your lower legs.

2. If you are in a plane, calf stretching exercises at regular intervals will reduce the likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis.  Getting out of your seat and walking whenever you can, can also help reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

3. Avoid sitting for a long period of time.  Getting up and moving around once an hour even if it is for one or two minutes will reduce the likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis.

For more information about deep vein thrombosis following travel contact Hratch Karamanoukian, MD FACS at the Vein Treatment Center, Buffalo NY or go to www.VeinsVeinsVeins.com  or call 716-839-3638.