PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Sitting during a long flight or car ride can cause swollen ankles and calves. The inactivity also increases your risk of thrombophlebitis in the veins of your legs. To help prevent a blood clot from forming:
- Take a walk. If you're flying, walk around the airplane cabin once an hour or so. If you're driving, stop every hour or so and walk around.
- If you must stay seated, move your legs regularly. Flex your ankles, or carefully press your feet against the floor or foot rest in front of you at least 10 times each hour.
On flights or car rides lasting more than four hours, take additional precautions to reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis:
- Avoid wearing tight clothing around your waist.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Stretch your calves by walking at least once an hour.
If you're at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, talk to your doctor before your flight. He or she may recommend that you use:
- Compression stockings
- Any prescribed blood-thinning medication as directed
Aspirin therapy is generally not recommended and could thin your blood too much if you're also taking warfarin (Coumadin). Let your doctor know if you're already taking aspirin for another reason.
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- Deep vein thrombosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Dvt/DVT_All.html. Accessed Nov. 3, 2010.
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- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec07/ch081/ch081b.html#sec07-ch081-ch081b-1758. Accessed Nov. 3, 2010.
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