Are you moving cross-country, or just taking a road trip to see the world? Road trips can be a lot of fun. I just went on a road trip from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Phoenix, Arizona over the course of 5 days. I had heard about the dangers of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolisms during long periods of travel from my wife who is a nurse. I decided to learn more and see what I could do. Here is what I discovered:
What Is the Risk?
According to the Mayo Clinic, Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of your veins deep in your body. If this clot moves to your lungs it can become a pulmonary embolism which could be fatal. Travel related DVT comes from the inactivity and lack of movement during long periods of travel. Here are some of the signs that you might be at higher risk according to the Center for Disease Control: a personal or family history of blood clots, or a known clotting condition, old age or obesity. Find a full list here. If you have any of these risk factors you may want to talk to your doctor prior to your road trip.
Don’t stay cooped up in your moving truck, or whatever vehicle you are driving on your road trip. Unlike an airplane, you can actually pull over and get out from time to time. According to mayoclinic.org you should stop about every hour or so to get out and walk around. This is good advice. Those stops to get gas or stock up on more road trip snacks are actually good for your health! Besides you have to stop for a bathroom break eventually anyway.
If for some reason you can’t stop as often as you might like, The Center for Disease Control suggests that you exercise your calf muscles during your road trip. Here are the road trip exercises they suggest that you can do while you are still in the vehicle:
- Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor.
- Raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor.
- Tightening and releasing your leg muscles.
You can do these exercises as often as you want throughout your trip, just be sure if you are driving that you are not raising and lowering your feet on the gas pedal. Be sure that you are in park before hand.
Ask Your Doctor
As with anything medical, you should always check with your doctor first. If you believe that a long road trip can be difficult for your health personally your doctor can better advise you. If you believe you might be at elevated risk for DVT, your doctor may be able to provide you with medication or other preventative measures.
Have you ever been on a long road trip? What did you do to keep the blood flowing? Let us know in the comments!