Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Four Non-stop Hours Of Travel Doubles DVT Risk

Four Non-stop Hours Of Travel Doubles DVT Risk

01 Jul 2007

Regardless of whether a passenger is traveling by plane, bus or car, after four hours of continuous seated travel, the risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) doubles, says the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the absolute risk, at 1 in every 6,000 passengers, is low.

WHO also stated that taking two or more flights in succession or over a short period also raised the risk of developing DVT. The main reason is that after a long flight the risk takes about four weeks to wear off.

The two most common manifestations of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) are deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. DVT is a condition in which a thrombus, or a blood clot develops in a deep vein - generally in the lower leg. The patient might feel pain and tenderness and notice a swelling around the affected area. DVT can be treated. When associated with thromboembolism DVT can be life-threatening.

Thromboembolism is when a DVT blood clot breaks loose and becomes lodged in the lung and blocks blood flow - what is known as pulmonary embolism. With pulmonary embolism the patient may feel chest pains and experience breathing difficulties. If left untreated VTO can lead to death.

For car, plane and bus passengers to run a higher risk of DVT during long trips, they need to remain seated and immobile.

Other factors that may influence VTE risk during long trips:

Being taller than 1.9 meters (nearly 6ft 3 inches)
Being shorter than 1.6 meters (5ft 3 inches)
Oral contraceptive use
Inherited blood disorders leading to increased clotting tendency

Dr Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Disease and Mental Health, said "The study does confirm that there is an increased risk of venous thromboembolism during travel where the passenger is seated and immobile for over four hours, whether in a plane, train, bus or car. However, it is important to remember that the risk of developing VTE when travelling remains relatively low".

Although this study did not investigate preventive measures against DVT and VTE, experts recommend passengers observe the following tips:

Exercise your calf muscles with up-and-down movements of the feet at the ankle joints. This encourages blood flow in the calf muscle veins - which in turn reduces blood stagnation.

Avoid wearing tight clothing when you travel

There are special socks you can wear. Many airlines supply them; you can also buy them at most airports and several pharmacies.

WRIGHT project report

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today
Copyright: Medical News Today

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