DVT, varicose veins and flying

I have varicose veins - is it safe for me to fly?

businessmen in airplane

People with varicose veins are at a higher risk for developing DVT or pulmonary embolism during a long flight

People with varicose veins — both men and women — are at a slightly higher risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) during a long flight, says Dr. Thomas Wakefield, head of Vascular Surgery at the University of Michigan.

In addition to encouraging people to be aware of the link between DVT, varicose veins and flying, Dr. Wakefield offers the following tips for anyone flying or traveling long distances in a car, bus or train (4 or more hours):

  • Wear compression stockings
  • Get up and move about whenever possible
  • Periodically pump your legs up and down while seated
  • Drink lots of fluids and wear loose-fitting clothes that do not restrict blood flow
  • Try not to cross your legs
  • Take an aspirin before traveling
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages during travel

“Any and all methods of reducing your risk of DVT are important,” says Dr. Wakefield. “If you plan to travel and have concerns about your risks of getting a blood clot, be sure to talk with your doctor or a healthcare professional.”

Is DVT risk greater in women?

March is DVT Awareness Month

belly of pregnant woman

Pregnancy is one of the risk factors for developing DVT

A woman’s risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) varies with hormonal exposure, making pregnancy, use of hormone replacement therapy or birth control products important risk factors. According to the Vascular Disease Foundation, DVT and PE are the most common causes of maternal-related deaths.

Preventing blood clots during pregnancy

What can you do to prevent clots during pregnancy? The American Society of Hematology recommends the following:

  • Be aware of risk factors.
  • Know your family history.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about any history of blood clots or blood clotting disorders in your family.
  • Remain active, with your doctor’s approval.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. Visit your doctor immediately if you think you have one.

Here’s to your vein health

March is DVT Awareness Month

Back of bare legsDr. Lisa Pavone is a strong supporter of vein disease awareness. “Venous health issues are prevalent,” she says, noting that as many as 50 percent of individuals over the age of 50 have some sort of vein health issue, which could include:

  • Deep or superficial vein thrombosis (blood clots)
  • Phlebitis
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Varicose and spider veins
  • Venous ulcers

What are the risks of untreated vein disease? If the valves inside your leg veins are damaged as a result of vein disease, the valves may not close completely, allowing blood to leak backward or flow in both directions, affecting leg health.

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What you need to know about deep vein thrombosis

March is DVT Awareness Month


Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, occurs when a blood clot forms in the large veins of the legs or pelvic region. If the clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, a pulmonary embolism (PE) may result.

According to national estimates, approximately 900,000 people are affected by deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism each year. Dr. Thomas Wakefield, head of vascular surgery at the University of Michigan, says identifying the patient’s risk factors is important in preventing DVT. “If there is a risk, you can modify and reduce that risk in many cases.”

Who’s at risk for DVT?

Risk factors for DVT and PE include:

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Hypertension No Match for DASH Diet

U-M study shows drop in blood pressure after just 21 days

Hypertension was no match for the DASH diet during a University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study in which patients with a certain type of heart failure were given heat-and-serve low-sodium (low-salt) meals for three weeks.

Tipped over salt shaker

Hypertension was no match for the DASH diet during a study in which patients with a certain type of heart failure were given heat-and-serve low-sodium (low-salt) meals for three weeks.

In just 21 days of following a low-sodium Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, patients with  “diastolic” heart failure saw a drop in blood pressure similar to taking an anti-hypertension medicine. Some patients were able to cut back on their diuretics and anti-hypertensives.

Diastolic heart failure (a type of heart failure that occurs even though the heart’s muscle-pumping function is not weakened), happens when the heart becomes stiff and does not relax enough between beats. This condition makes up more than half of older adults with heart failure, but has no standard treatment. University of Michigan cardiologist Scott L. Hummel, M.D., M.S, wondered if, based on animal studies, diet could make a big difference for these patients.

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