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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT, Deep Vein Thromobosis, Immobility, heparin, warfin, blood clots, economy class syndrome

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis, which is also called deep venous thrombosis or DVT, is a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein. It usually affects the leg veins, such as the femoral vein or the popliteal vein

DVT is more commonly referred to as ‘economy class syndrome’ in the media and of late gained accelerated notoriety in the world’s press as a general public awareness of the problem. The link between DVT and long haul air travel was first introduced in medical journals in the 1950s which highlighted the potential risk long periods of immobility during long haul flights presented.

Even today, there remains a great deal of ignorance surrounding DVT, despite the fact that more people are flying than ever before. In general, DVT is not a problem restricted only to the air travellers, and anyone travelling for prolonged distances by car, bus or train is at equal risk. So, DVT is said to be a result of extended periods of immobility which can lead to the development of a blood clot.

Deep-vein thrombosis occurs in about 1 in 1000 people per year. About 1-5% will die from the complications of a DVT like pulmonary embolism (lung blood clots). Dr Virchow noticed an association between venous thrombosis in the legs and pulmonary embolism. Heparin, a type of anticoagulant medication that keeps the blood thin and thus prevents blood clots, was introduced to clinical practice in 1937. In the last 25 years, considerable progress has been made in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of deep vein thrombosis.

There may be no early symptoms of a DVT. Some people may have a DVT clot without even realizing it as the DVT clots are small and not significant. However when there are symptoms, the most common symptoms are of pain and swelling of the leg or calf. There are many factors that increase the likelihood of a clot forming. The main factors are immobilization, recent trauma or surgery and cancer. Deep vein thrombosis treatment is mainly centered on preventing new clots from forming with blood thinners and allowing time for the body to break down the clot by itself. In rare situations like very large DVT clots, medications are used to break down the DVT but this carries with it and increased risk of bleeding.

More people are at risk of DVT today. With an ever increasing number of long haul flights every year and long journey of people by other methods of transports, the number of individuals likely to be effected by DVT has inevitably also increased. Every year DVT occurs in about 1 in 2000 people in the general population, ranging from less than 1 in 3000 in people under the age of 40 up to 1 in 500 in those over 80.

There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of DVT: Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during the flight, as this can compound dehydration. Try and keep your thighs clear of the edge of your seat. Use foot rests as far as possible. Take a brisk walk for half an hour before the flight. Regularly go for a short walk to the restroom to keep your legs moving during the flight. Try a few simple exercises to keep your legs moving, by rotating your ankles, pointing your heel and toe alternately and lifting your knees whilst seated every half hour for a short period. Try and tense your leg muscles as regularly as possible throughout the flight. Wear elastic flight socks (elastic compression stockings) especially designed to reduce the risk of DVT. These are readily available at most pharmacies.

It is possible to treat DVT with blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants), including warafin and heparin. Low doses of aspirin are believed to have a similar effect, though its effectiveness in preventing DVT remains disputed. The treatment of established DVT is carried out by administering an enzyme which can dissolve the clot – Tissue Plasimnogen Activator (TPA). However, in case of identified case of DVT, its better to consult specialist physician for the proper treatment.


Published: 2007-01-30
Author: Rama Kant Mishra

About the author or the publisher
I have done Masters in Fisheries Management and have written and published articles on Fisheries, Agriculture, Medical, Pharmaceutical, political, self Improvement and Career. Professionally working for an IT company as a Technical Writer. I love to write and publish and have worked as freelance writer, ghost writer and as special correspondent for print media. You may find me contributing on www.merinews.com and www.groundreport.com You may reach me at mishraramakant@gmail.

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