I'd heard about DVT long before I developed one, but I always heard they happened to a certain "profile" of people:
Some of the risk factors that may contribute to the formation of a thrombus include:
- Coronary heart disease
- Being overweight or obese
- Cigarette smoking
- A high dose combined oral contraceptive pill
- A susceptibility to 'stickier' blood and a family history of DVT
- Sitting still for long periods of time
- Recent surgery or injury
- Some types of cancer
- Congestive cardiac failure
- Previous thrombosis.
You are more likely to get a DVT if you:
- are over 40
- are immobile, for example, if you have had an operation (especially on a hip or knee) or are travelling for long distances - and so are not able to move your legs
- have had a blood clot in a vein before
- have a family history of blood clots in veins
- have a condition causing your blood to clot more easily (this is called thrombophilia)
- are very overweight (obese)
- have cancer or have had cancer treatment
- have heart disease or circulation problems
- are a woman taking a contraception pill that contains oestrogen, or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- are pregnant or have recently had a baby
And so on ... you can Google it and see site after site of the same sort of stuff.
But that's not me. I don't fit the profile. I am over 40 (just), but I'm a fairly slender (within a "normal" weight range), active, non-pregnant, non-smoker who does not have cancer, serious heart issues, or any previous issues with clotting. And I was on the BCP but only for about 2 months before my DVT. I'm the one hiking up and down the airport between flights to get the blood flowing, and drinking lots of water. I didn't figure there would be any chance I would develop a DVT.
What I've begun to wonder is ... could it be that athletic people should be added to the profile? Since my DVT, I've heard of a lot of very active people who have developed DVT, and of some who have died from it.
Rowan and I have been wondering if the lower resting heart rate that athletic people develop increases the chances of blood pooling in the feet during extended periods of immobility, such as long flights.
I've started doing a bit of research on this, and came across these (and other articles):
"Did you know that 85% of air travel thrombosis victims are athletic, usually endurance athletes? [www.airhealth.org/athletes.html, July 11, 2004]"
"Measures that the athlete and, for that matter, the non-athlete should take to minimize the risk for DVT or PE are listed in table 3. For the athlete the most important ones are probably to (a) avoid dehydration, and (b) take breaks when traveling long distances."
Unfortunately, there isn't much research being done on the athlete and DVT ... yet ... but it does appear to be an issue. There also isn't much information out there on getting back into shape after DVT and particularly while a person is still on Warfarin.
So ... if you're quite active, and if you fly long distances for cycling events or other travel adventures, you are not immune to DVT. Instead, you may be more prone to it than the sedentary traveller next to you. Keep hydrated on your trip, get an aisle seat, and move around the airplane. If you do experience any sort of cramping on the flight or soon after the flight, get it checked ASAP. The sooner you get it checked and taken care of, the easier the recovery process is.
If you've got an office job where you sit for long periods of time, you might also want to get up and walk around once an hour or so. It'll burn more calories, clear your head ... and perhaps help prevent DVT.