Frequent travelers at risks for blood clots

July 2, 2010 4:24:52 AM PDT
With the heavy travel summer season upon us, lots of people will be spending many hours sitting on an airplane, train, or car, getting to their destinations. However, the result of traveling on the road comes with a small risk: blood clots in your legs and thighs.

The risk is very rare, but approximately one is every 6,000 passengers are affected, but when you think of the millions travelling every day, those numbers become very meaningful and a few precautions can save your life.

For most people, healthy travel means remembering to bring their medications and phone numbers of their doctors, but many people forget that drinking water is a simple yet significant step towards preventing health problems during their trips.

Sometimes people cut back on drinking water because they don't want to go to the bathroom during a trip. Unfortunately, dehydration is one of the risk factors for developing blood clots.

Massimo Napolitano, M.D Hackensack University Medical Center, recommends everyone to drink up before you take off. "Drinking water ultimately hydrates you. It allows the blood to be less thick in your body and blood that is less thick is less likely to clot."

Travelers should also take breaks during their commute. If your traveling by car, stop at a rest area and go for short walk. If you're on a bus, train, or airplane, don't be shy to stand up and stretch.

"If you keep it circulating and you keep moving, you are less likely to develop blood clots," said Dr. Napolitano.

It's also important to avoid wearing tight or constrictive clothing during a long commute.

A previous clot can put someone at higher risk during travel. The same applies for people who were recently hospitalized for surgery, or a recent bone fracture. Varicose veins, obesity, pregnancy, or chronic swelling of the legs or feet also increase you risk for blood clots.

Some doctors give at risk patients compression stockings, but these should be well fitted or they may make things worse.