Capitol Vein Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Flying May Put You at Risk For Leg Blood Clots

A recent CBS News article, which discussed the risk of leg blood clots during long distance flights, presented some opinions that may be misleading - and Capitol Vein & Laser would like to offer some clarification.

The article suggested that sitting in window seats increases the risk of clots because there is less chance of getting out of the seat and walking the aisle. Physicians quoted in the article correctly stated that the chance of getting a blood clot while flying is twice the rate in non-flyers, but the risk is still relatively low. However, patients with varicose veins also have an increased risk of blood clots associated with long flights.

Venous blood flow in the legs begins near the foot and ascends the leg toward the groin, against gravity. Prolonged sitting reduces the ability of the leg muscles to pump the blood up the leg, thus increasing the risk of slow flow and blood clots. One way to increase the flow in the veins is to exercise, which in a confined airplane means walking every few hours, or at least doing foot exercises while sitting. We know that the use of medical-grade support hose can reduce the risk of clot formation, and we strongly recommend that passengers on long flights use these garments, even if the passengers have a low risk of blood clots. 

The authors of the article seem to resist this recommendation, though they give no rationale for their comment. The vein experts at Capitol Vein & Laser strongly advocate that passengers on long flights use support hose to reduce clot formation and leg swelling. Once you land, there is no reason to continue using the hose, unless they make your legs feel better. 

While the stockings do not guarantee you won’t form a clot, they do help reduce your risk. If you have leg pain or swelling even after using the stockings, be sure to seek medical advice so that serious problems can be avoided or diagnosed and treated.

Dr. McNeill and Dr. Rosenberg are happy to discuss this further with you at any of the practice's four offices in Maryland, Virginia or West Virginia.


Becca said...

I had not experiencing varicose veins after giving birth in my 3 kids. But according to some of my friends that already got this, it is very painful during cold seasons. Thanks for the tips here.

Pedro said...

Is a person taking an anticoagulant for PE's at less risk than a person who is not, and who could be at risk from a DVT/VTE.

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