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By: Chad Zawacki, PA-C

With the Christmas Holiday approaching along with New Years there will be a lot of the population traveling to see loved ones and friends.  Most will be traveling great distances whether it is via car or by plane.  With this being said those traveling those long distances are at a greater risk of a life-threatening condition known as a deep venous thrombosis aka as a DVT for short.

What is a DVT?

A DVT is simply just a blood clot that forms in one of the veins most commonly seen in the lower extremities.

Signs/Symptoms of a DVT

Most cases it involves the calf area of one of the lower legs where the individual will complain of calf pain/tenderness along with swelling of the affected area and the area appearing warm.  Some patients may have the above symptoms along with a cough, chest pain and or shortness of breath indicating that the clot has now traveled to the lung from its original location in the lower leg.  If this occurs and confirmed it is a medical emergency.

Causes of a DVT

The most common causes are due to what is known as “Virchow’s triad”.   1.) Stasis of blood such as blood pooling into veins in the lower extremities.  An example of this would be sitting in a car or on a plane for many, many hours.   2.) Injury such as a cut or surgery where the body then reacts to stop any bleeding thus forming a clot putting one at a grater risk of a DVT.  3.) The last portion of Virchow’s triad is someone who has a hypercoagulable state with most of these being an inherited condition such as factor V leiden mutation.  The more of virchow’s triad that an individual has the more likelihood of a DVT forming.

Prevention of a DVT

For purposes of this discussion we will focus on prevention of a DVT while traveling. Those traveling long distances should stop approximately every two hours and stand/walk for 15 minutes.  Also moving your legs and feet as much as possible while sitting can help prevent clotting.  Knee marches and ankle pumps are good exercises to perform.   Lastly, a baby aspirin when not contraindicated can also be utilized for those long trips.