Doctor warns that even short travel can lead to blood clots

Doctor warns that even short travel can lead to blood clots

HOUSTON – AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel this Thanksgiving, that’s 98% of pre-pandemic volumes.

A doctor from Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Dr. Naveed Saqib, said 1,000,000 people a year experience blood clots in the U.S.

On a flight last Christmas, headed to Boston, Rebecca Lilley said she formed a clot in her leg.

“We flew to Boston, and then the next morning traveled to Vermont, and I had calf pain when we were walking around in Vermont,” she recalled.

She was eventually hospitalized and had surgery to remove a blood clot in her leg. Then, Dr. Saqib discovered some clots had already moved and become deadly.

“Dr. Saqib said ‘I want to check your lungs, we’re going to do contrast CT scan again.’ So, he did that and found two blood clots in my lung and one sitting on my heart,” Lilley said. “Essentially, I’ve been kind of walking around as a little time bomb.”

In hindsight, she said she could’ve done things differently when traveling.

“I didn’t stay hydrated. I didn’t move during the three-hour flight because you’re just sitting there thinking ‘let me get there.’ And so, in retrospect, I should’ve drank the water, I should’ve gotten up and gone, I should’ve walked around,” she said.

According to Dr. Saqib, anybody can get blood clots. Age and diet don’t play a big role.

The main risk factors include dehydration, birth control pills, pregnancy and sitting stationary.

“We have a long time that we sit in the airport not walking around, waiting on your flight, then you take a flight, anything above two hours is time enough for the blood clots to form, so during those times of flights… the change of hemodynamics causes blood to pool in your legs,” Dr. Saqib explained.

How to avoid blood clots:

  • Hydrate

  • Wear compression socks

  • Move your legs

  • Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin

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