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Blood Clots, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Arterial Thrombosis, Say What?

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Why are we advised not to sit for prolonged periods of time, especially on long flights? To prevent blood clots !

Being immobilized for long periods of time slows down the blood flow. This may cause accumulation of blood cells in a certain part of a vein. In addition, we avoid drinking on the plane because that would mean getting up, squeezing by the other passenger and having everyone look at us before we dash to the bathroom. Less water means possible dehydration causing the blood to become thick. And suddenly, ouch! We experience a leg cramp. Is it just a muscle spasm due to sitting in the tight sardine-like seat or could we have formed a blood clot in our vein?

Normally, blood clots in response to injury preventing us from bleeding to death. However, sometimes blood clots will form without injury ( watch here ). They may either dissolve or cause a medical problem/emergency. If they get lodged in a vein or artery, they block the flow of blood to different organs like heart, brain or lungs resulting in a heart attack , stroke , or pulmonary embolism .

Thrombosis means the formation or presence of a blood clot within a blood vessel during life. This can occur either in a vein or artery (arterial-).

Causes of blood clots:
1. After surgery
2. Response to traumatic injury, auto accidents
3. Gradual buildup of plaque within an artery
4. Cancer
5. Autoimmune disorder
6. Infection
7. Bleeding disorders

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I have one of the genetic factors (Factor V Leiden) along with 3 first degree relatives that have clotted, which is now considered a risk factor (family history). My grandmother developed a superifical clot on here leg that turned to gangrene and had to be amputated. My mother developed a clot in her arm after an IV during a serious illness. She described it feeling like her shoulder was out of it's socket. She went on to develop a clot in her neck a year later. My aunt developed a clot from her groin to her ankle after chemo for uterine cancer.

I am doing everything preventative that I can. I make sure I stay hydrated and I am active. I stop often during trip to get out and walk and when stopping isn't an option, I do exercises that stretch my legs and rotate my ankles. I have shared the information about this gentic condition with my doctors and have had to remind them of it when they have suggested things like HRT. Also, knowing the signs of a clot is a big plus. I really wish GYNs would ask about a family history of blood clots before they prescribe BCPs. It could help prevent a lifetime of suffering.

A clot is very serious and can cause death. It can also cause a many other health issues. Insurance companies do not like people who have clotted, since they consider them high risk patients.


October 23, 2009 - 7:54pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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