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Travel Warning: DVT Dangers During Holidays

The little known condition that could kill you while you travel this holiday season.

This holiday season, millions of families are packing their bags and preparing to see family and friends. Whether driving or flying, folks will sit motionless for hours putting them at an increased risk for something most are unprepared for and have never heard of DVT—or deep vein thrombosis—a blood clot that could become deadly.
Frequent road trips home during college were a part of life for Mallory Click.
“I was trying just to drive straight through, just so I wouldn’t be wasting time driving,” Mallory told Ivanhoe.
However, the five and a half hour trips nearly took her life at age 21.
“My leg was just throbbing and I had a hard time sleeping that night.  I was just kind of tossing and turning all night,” Mallory said.
The pain and swelling were caused by deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in her leg that nearly doubled its size and sent her to the emergency room.
“It’s crazy. I would have never thought at such a young age I could get blood clots,” Mallory said.
DVT impacts two million people a year in the U.S. and Dr. Heather Hall says most people know nothing about it or its risks.
“It’s when that clot breaks off and travels to the lung and becomes a pulmonary embolism that it can be fatal,” Heather Hall, MD, Vascular Surgeon, Weiss Memorial Hospital, told Ivanhoe.
Every year, DVT kills more than 100,000 Americans, more than breast cancer and aids combined.
“Anything that makes a person less active or less mobile is going to put them at risk for developing a DVT,” Dr. Hall said.
She says that if you are driving, then you should stop every four hours to stretch your legs to get your blood flowing.  
“If you’re stuck on a flight and you can’t get up and walk, something you can do while you are sitting in your seat is calf raises. So, keep your toes on the floor and raise your heels up and down,” Dr. Hall said.
Plus, stay hydrated. “Try to avoid alcohol. Try to avoid becoming dehydrated when you fly,” Dr. Hall explained.
Also, know your risk factors.
“Are you a smoker? Are you overweight? Do you have a family history of developing blood clots?” Dr. Hall said.
These are all things Mallory is aware of now.
Birth control pills can also increase your risk of DVT. If you experience sudden pain and swelling in your calf or leg, Dr. Hall recommends that you see a doctor immediately.

BACKGROUND: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs.  It can cause leg pain, but often occurs without any symptoms. This condition can develop if a person is sitting still for a long time. DVT is considered a serious condition because a blood clot that has formed in the vein could break and travel through the blood stream and lodge in the lungs, blocking blood flow.  (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/deep-vein-thrombosis/DS01005
SYMPTOMS: About half of all DVT cases do not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, when DVT does cause symptoms, they can include:
• Swelling in the affected leg, including in the ankle and foot
• Changes in skin color, like turning pale, red, or blue
• Warmth over the affected area
• Pain in the leg (this pain often starts in the calf and can feel like cramping or a charley horse) (Source: http://www.webmd.com/dvt/deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt-symptoms-diagnosis)

PULMONARY EMBOLISM: Pulmonary embolism occurs when a piece of a blood clot breaks off and blocks a major blood vessel. This can be fatal if the clot is not treated immediately. Warning signs can include coughing up blood, a sense of anxiety, sweating, rapid pulse, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath, and unexplained sudden onset of shortness of breath. Risks of developing pulmonary embolism include inactivity, obesity, smoking, birth control pills, and certain diseases. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/pulmonary-embolism-topic-overview)

 For More Information, Contact:
Caren Perlmuter
Marketing & Community Outreach
Weiss Memorial Hospital
cperlmut@WEISSHOSPITAL.COM
(773) 564-5670

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