Stop the Clot: Connection Between DVT and Flying

Author: Akashpreet Riar

Many might not know about it, but March is dedicated to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month. Now, you might be wondering what is DVT. It is when blood clots form in body’s superficial or deep veins. It usually occurs in one of the legs which can break off and travel throughout the body to cause more severe complications such as pulmonary embolisms. Many people around the world suffer from this commonly occurring medical condition which may present as being benign but can become fatal. This month, we look into raising awareness of DVT and educate the community about the effects of deep vein thrombosis on our everyday health. Let’s look at a simple profile below to better understand the situation.

Say a person named John, a white male in his mid 50’s who has a history of varicose veins, is traveling from New York to London for a meeting for work. John departs for his 7-hour flight to London, where he takes this time to catch up on sleep. During the 7-hour flight, John is sitting for most of the time aside from one occasional break to use the restroom. After his flight, John notices that he is having trouble walking, and notices swelling in his leg.

Symptoms:

  • swelling in the foot, ankle or leg
  • cramping pain in the calf
  • reddish or bluish patch of skin in the leg

Now that we know his symptoms of trouble walking, we can better understand that John appears to be having an episode of DVT. We also knew that John had varicose veins previously which increases his chances of DVT. How can John manage DVT?

To manage DVT, many patients need to go to the ER where they are given anti-coagulation drugs such as Rivaroxaban and oral vitamin K antagonists (warfarin) as the first treatment for DVT. Although prolonged imitation of anti-coagulation can have other side effects such as renal failure can occur. A follow-up is recommended after 3 months of initial treatment to determine whether prolonged usage of anti-coagulant is needed.

Many patients from DVT feel better after their initial treatment but are at a higher risk for another episode. Although the risk of DVT is 1/1000, risk factors such as pregnancy, cancer, medical illness, cancer, etc., can increase the chances of having an episode of DVT. Next time before you fly or sit somewhere for a long period of time, remember to get up and go for a walk as it might prevent DVT from occurring.

Bibliography

Mazzolai, L., Aboyans, V., Ageno, W., Agnelli, G., Alatri, A., Bauersachs, R., Brekelmans, M. P. A., Büller, H. R., Elias, A., Farge, D., Konstantinides, S., Palareti, G., Prandoni, P., Righini, M., Torbicki, A., Vlachopoulos, C., & Brodmann, M. (2017). Diagnosis and management of acute deep vein thrombosis: a joint consensus document from the European Society of Cardiology working groups of aorta and peripheral vascular diseases and pulmonary circulation and right ventricular function. European Heart Journal, 39(47), 4208–4218. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehx003

Vo, T., Vazquez, S., & Rondina, M. T. (2014). Current state of anticoagulants to treat deep venous thrombosis. Current cardiology reports16(3), 463. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11886-013-0463-2

Willacy, H. (2020, May 27). Deep Vein Thrombosis. Deep Vein Thombosis. https://patient.info/doctor/deep-vein-thrombosis-pro

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