Many people believe Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is only a risk when travelling by plane, however this is a myth! Developing DVT is just as much of a risk if you are travelling by car, and is most likely to occur by sitting for long periods of time (four or more hours). Which so many Australians do all the time when driving to visit interstate. If you have already suffered from varicose veins your risk for developing DVT is heightened significantly, as varicose veins are a symptom of a malfunctioning or weak venous system.
What is DVT?
Deep Vein Thrombosis is the occurrence of a blood clot within the deep venous system, and is most common in the deeper veins of the lower leg. The condition can be severe as DVTs can spread to other veins and cause dysfunction or even life-threatening complications such as pulmonary embolism. Other complications can include post-thrombotic syndrome (where damage has occurred in deep veins and the blood pools instead of flows) and limb ischaemia – a rare condition that can cause high pressure in the lungs.
What are the symptoms of DVT?
Many DVT blood clots are so tiny they do not cause any damage or produce any symptoms, and your body is usually able to break down the clots without side-effects. However more serious and larger blood clots often:
- Cause pain and discomfort
- Cause leg or limb swelling
- Cause pigmentation
- Make your skin warm or hot to touch
If experiencing the above symptoms, it is recommended to see a qualified GP to ensure your vein health.
Can DVT be prevented?
There are several actions that can be done to proactively reduce the risk of developing DVT, these include:
- Wearing compression stockings for long travels – these allow even blood flow and heighten circulation for a decreased risk of vein malfunction.
- Taking regular 'walk breaks' whilst travelling (minimum every 2 hours).
- If you have varicose veins, it is important to have an ultrasound examination prior to travel and if necessary having them treated as varicose veins heighten the risk of DVT.
Treating varicose veins
If you suffer from varicose veins, it is important to get them checked or treated (if necessary) prior to travelling for extensive periods of time.
Ultrasound is used to assess your varicose veins in much greater depth, depending on venous disease severity or complexity a number of techniques are available:
- Endovenous Laser Ablation (ELA)
- Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS)
Ensure your venous health before you take that holiday, a consultation is quick and easy but it could save you from developing Deep Vein Thrombosis.