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Deep vein thrombosis
Blood clots may form in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) during long plane flights, chiefly because of prolonged immobility. The longer the flight, the greater the risk. The risk is greatest for flights longer than 8-10 hours. Blood clots can also form after long train or car rides. Though most blood clots are reabsorbed uneventfully, some may dislodge and travel through the blood vessels to the lungs, where they may obstruct blood flow and cause life-threatening complications.
Risk factors for deep vein thrombosis include
To prevent the development of blood clots on long plane flights, the following measures are recommended:
Low molecular weight heparin may be considered for those at particularly high risk for thrombosis.
The chief symptom of deep vein thrombosis is swelling of the foot, ankle, or calf on one side, sometimes accompanied by pain. When the blood clot travels to the lungs, the chief symptoms are chest pain and difficulty breathing. Travelers with any of these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
From the National Travel Health Network and Centre (U.K.)
From "Health Information for Overseas Travel" (U.K.)
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