Here’s What an Expert Says About Your Risk of Developing a Blood Clot When Slying, Signs to Look Out For, and What Can Do About It.

Blood clots represent clusters of blood that transform into a semi-solid mass. Although some level of clotting is necessary for the body as it aids in stopping excessive blood loss, clots that fail to naturally dissolve may pose serious health risks. The danger lies in their ability to navigate the bloodstream, potentially reaching and obstructing critical organs’ blood supply.

In severe circumstances, such obstructions can lead to critical health crises including strokes, heart attacks, and pulmonary embolisms, where the lungs’ blood flow is blocked.

Numerous factors may elevate your susceptibility to blood clots, one of them being extended periods of immobility, such as during air travel. Health professionals at Chemist Click highlight the significance of this issue.

Fly, Clot Risk & Prevention

Extended periods of inactivity, characteristic of long-haul flights, or situations like being bedridden due to illness or post-surgery, or limited mobility due to wheelchair use, are known to amplify the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a type of blood clot that forms in a deep vein.

“Immobility, coupled with the reduced cabin pressure and humidity in an aeroplane,” as explained by the experts, “can contribute to blood pooling and slower blood flow, potentially leading to clot formation or the enlargement of existing clots.

“Flying, particularly long-haul, can increase the risk of pulmonary embolism (PE) which is a serious complication of DVT, when a blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs causing a blockage because of the prolonged immobility and reduced mobility through the duration.”

“The reduced cabin pressure, in aeroplanes,” according to them, “can lead to dehydration, as the air in the cabin is typically dry.”

Dehydration may thicken blood, which increases the risk of clotting.

Long periods of inactivity without sufficient leg mobility may cause blood to pool in the legs, thus raising the risk of clot development or aggravating pre-existing clots.

How to spot a blood clot when flying

According to the experts, breathing problems or a rapid start of shortness of breath, particularly if it is accompanied by chest discomfort, might be an indication of a pulmonary embolism, or a medical emergency requiring quick care.

Sharp or stabbing chest pain, especially if it is accompanied by breathing difficulties, may also be a sign of PE or other cardiovascular problems.

You should seek medical assistance right away if your heart rate suddenly increases, you suffer irregular heartbeats (palpitations), feel faint or dizzy, or lose consciousness.

If you have severe pain, swelling, or soreness in one leg, especially if it is accompanied by warmth, redness, or discoloration, you may have a blood clot, they say.

Indications of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT):

  • Discomfort and sensitivity in the leg impacted, are frequently experienced as a profound throbbing or muscle tightening.
  • Escalation in pain when on foot or upright.
  • Edema, potentially coupled with a feeling of heat and redness, or a blue or violet tint in the region affected.
  • Surface-level blood vessels in proximity to the clot’s location might become conspicuous and noticeable.

How to reduce the risk of blood clots while traveling

Fortunately, you may take precautions to lower your chance of a blood clot.

Take many chances to stretch your legs and walk about, and choose an aisle seat if at all feasible, the experts said.

While sitting, you may do easy leg exercises like ankle circles, heel-toe rises, and leg lifts.

To keep your blood circulating, try to take short walks in the aisle when it’s safe to do so or do exercises while seated.

If you have been given a blood-thinning drug and are at high risk of DVT, ask your doctor for guidance on how to take it while flying.

“Your doctor may also give you aspirin to reduce the risk, and you can also wear compression stockings.

“Sitting with crossed legs can restrict blood flow in the legs. Instead, keep your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor or supported on a footrest if available.”

Other things that put you at risk for blood clots are:

  • Having been recently hospitalized or still in the hospital, particularly with limited mobility.
  • Being overweight.
  • Smoking.
  • Utilizing hormonal birth control methods.
  • History of a prior blood clot.
  • Being pregnant or recently having given birth.
  • Suffering from an inflammatory condition like Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

If you harbor any concerns about the possibility of a blood clot, it’s crucial to consult with your primary care physician.

Image Credit: Getty

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