Arriving in the summer and on weekends is a routine for planning trips, some of which are long-haul, which means that we stay with a little movement for a long time. This can cause blood clots to form in a vein called venous thrombosis. Although this may affect any part of the body, it often occurs in the lower limbs. This condition is known as tourist class syndrome or traveler thrombosis.
To stay on the flight for more than four hours, or to travel more than six hours in a car or in a collective, it is enough for our circulation to begin to undergo changes that can cause thrombosis.
Staying in the same condition, low mobility, low atmospheric pressure and reduced blood circulation, together increases the persistence of red blood cells, mainly calves, as the feet are so many hours; that can cause thrombus formation. Although staying on the knees weakens the venous circulation, the risk of thrombus formation is relatively low.
The risk of thrombosis will depend on the duration of the trip and the presence of other related factors such as heart failure, obesity, thrombophilia, varicose veins, previous history of venous thrombosis, smoking or surgery up to 30 days. In addition, there is a change in coagulation, which may be hereditary or acquired that promotes thrombosis. The discovery of such changes requires specialized and very complex research.
This disease is considered to be a multi-factor condition. Most people with thrombosis associated with travel have at least one other risk factor that increases their likelihood.
The most common symptoms occur in the limbs and may start suddenly, progress every day, or appear hours after a long journey. They are characterized by pain (usually from the calf), swelling that does not diminish with rest, heat sensation in the affected area, foot color changes or obvious redness and cramps.
To avoid this situation, it is important to stop and walk every two or three hours, expand and bend your legs, mobilize your hands, turn your shoulders and move your legs and ankles repeatedly.
Use comfortable clothes and shoes, avoiding tight clothes that reduce the venous return of the limbs. For people suffering from varicose veins, it is recommended to use elastic compression socks. Other general measures for long-distance travel drink plenty of water (not alcohol) without breaking your legs while sitting and staying in the same condition for long periods of time.
There is a widespread belief that pre-travel use of aspirin or aspirin reduces the risk of thrombosis. This is not the case as it has been shown that aspirin does not affect the prevention of venous thrombosis. If aspirin is consumed due to other pathologies, such as coronary heart disease, the drug should not be stopped for travel, nor should the above recommendations be followed.
Other causes, the same condition
In addition to the trip, there are other conditions that can cause a decrease in blood circulation, such as prolonged immobilization, cleavage or use, surgery (mainly hip and knee) or tumors.
Also, some medicines promote thrombosis. This applies to estrogens used in oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy that hyperstimulate the coagulation system. If a gynecologist prescribes a drug with estrogen, either as a method of contraception or in some other clinical situation, it is important to report the presence of varices if a direct family member had thrombosis or had episodes of the disease, as this would not be the most appropriate medication.
The severity of this disease increases when a part of the thrombus crosses the bloodstream to reach a smaller caliber vein than its diameter, resulting in embolism. This usually occurs in the lungs, causing shortness of breath, chest pain (mainly on the side), palpitations and even more severe symptoms such as low blood pressure or syncope. When faced with these symptoms, it is important to consult your nearest health center for emergency services.
Given the difficulties associated with this disease, early and accurate diagnosis is very important.
How is venous thrombosis treated?
Treatment of this disease is based on the use of anticoagulants to try and dissolve the thrombus created and prevent the spread or progression of thrombosis. Over the last five years, new anticoagulants have been developed, which are called direct, which have contributed to the treatment of this disease without requiring frequent monitoring, as required by traditional anticoagulants or coumarin.
There are currently different types of anticoagulants that can be adjusted for each patient regardless of the specific situations in which one type of anticoagulant is recommended for another.
The Sanatorio Allende Hematology Service has doctors specializing in the detection and treatment of venous thrombosis and haemostasis, adapting each approach in a specific way.
The most important thing about this disease is prevention: the most important measure to protect against it is to know predisposing factors and symptoms to see if we are at risk.
If you have decided to travel and have previously shown a blood clot, if your relative has a disease or congenital coagulation disease, or if you are taking blood thinners, it is important to consult your doctor first.