Fit for Flying?
March 16, 2022
Despite all Covid restrictions coming and going, air travel is still happening. However, most people are more aware of possible health risks involved and deep vein thrombosis has become a global concern.
So let your flight trip be safe by understanding a few key points of air travel, and developing some healthy habits.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that develops in a deep vein, commonly in the legs. It is a life-threatening condition because a piece of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs where it can cause a pulmonary embolism (a blockage of a main artery to the lung). The jury is still out there on the extent of whether long-haul flights raises your risk of DVTs.
However several studies by the World Health Organization’s Research Into Global Hazards of Travel states that the risk of DVT may double after four hours of flying and in a cohort of healthy individuals, 1 in 6,000 people are affected, predominantly due to prolonged seated immobility.
The risk is significantly raised when you have risk factors for DVT which can include being over the age of 40, having had
a DVT or blood clot in the lung before, having a history of blood clots in the family, hormonal effects of being pregnant or being on HRT or using oral contraceptives, recent surgery or trauma, and also many types of cancer.
In essence, clots develop if blood does not adequately move! The calf muscles have been termed the “Vein Heart” and are pivotal in ensuring blood flow in the deep veins – keep moving them…even intermittently is good enough!
Exercising not only alleviates your risk of developing a DVT, but it can also reduce aches and pains, relieve stress and boredom, and induce better quality sleep.
Such aeroplane exercises include rotating the ankles, pushing down alternately with heels and toes, standing calf raises (go to a corner near the toilets or the galley to do these), alternately tensing and relaxing parts of the legs (working upwards from feet to thighs and hips then down again), various back, shoulder and neck stretches or even bringing a tennis or lacrosse ball on board with you to massage your leg muscles.
Gently push the ball into your thigh and roll it up and down your leg. Alternatively, you can place the ball under your leg.
Also do not get dehydrated as one’s blood will thicken and increase the risk of clotting – consume adequate amounts of non-alcoholic beverages throughout the flight to prevent dehydration.
Compression stockings or even wearing medical compression socks to ensure a compression of 15 to 30 mm Hg at the ankle will stimulate circulation and prevent blood from pooling and definitely help with swelling which occurs from the change in pressure in the cabin.
Many of the world’s most fascinating destinations can only be reached on a long-distance flight.
Sitting on a plane for prolonged periods can be problematic and ill-health effects are all preventable – follow the steps to improve health and prevent any medical conditions and enable you to enjoy your time at your desired destination.
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