Long flights require you to remain seated for extended periods of time. During this time many people will cross their legs to stay comfortable. This situation creates two risk factors that can lead to the formation of blood clots in the legs. The medical term for this condition is called thrombosis.
Work Those Muscles
The calf muscle is designed to alleviate thrombosis by effectively pumping and pushing blood up the leg and to the heart. When the body is sedentary for extended periods of time, or circulation to the legs is being compromised, it is difficult for this process to take place. This is why wellness professionals recommended that the following exercises be performed periodically while on a long flights. These exercises will help to prevent blood clots from forming:
- Extend your legs while seated
- Flex the foot back and forth
- Get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour
Before You Fly…
If you are planning a trip that involves a long flight, and you have clotting issues due to specific medical conditions, be sure to notify your physician in advance. Your health professional may want to prescribe a blood thinner beforehand.
The List of Risks
What are the other risk factors for thrombosis?
- Age 60 or older
- Having a pacemaker
- Recuperating from knee or hip replacement surgery
- Varicose Veins
- Lack of activity and/or proper hydration
- Confinement to a wheelchair or bed
Seniors tend to have a higher risk of developing blood clots, so they need to be aware of the impact that they can have. What makes a blood clot so serious? Once a blood clot has formed it can dislodge and travel throughout the body. If it goes to your lungs it can cause a life threatening condition called pulmonary embolism. If the clot travels to your heart it can also cause death.
Remaining as active as possible goes a long way in the prevention of thrombosis.
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies