Does air travel figure into your summer vacation plans?

"Walk or stretch often during your flight, "says Richard Nitzberg, M.D., vice chair of general surgery at Summit Medical Group and director of the Group's Vein Center. "Any flight lasting more than an hour may increase your risk for blood clots."  

Risk factors for blood clots include:

• A stroke, an injury, or another condition that makes it hard for you to move

• Taking hormones, such as birth control

• A family or personal history of clots

• Being obese or older than age 65

Blood clots most often form in the lower leg or thigh. They can then break off and travel to your lungs, creating a very dangerous condition - deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT often occurs without symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

• Swelling in the leg

• Red, discolored, or white skin

• A cord in a leg vein that can be felt

• Rapid heartbeat

• Slight fever

• Warm skin

• More visible surface veins

• A dull ache, tightness, tenderness, or pain in the leg (these symptoms may only occur while walking or standing)

To prevent deep vein thrombosis caused by long periods of sitting or reclining, move your lower legs. Walking and stretching and flexing (bending) the knees may be helpful. Also, wear loose-fitting clothing, and cut back on salt consumption, advises Dr. Nitzberg.

At the Summit Medical Group Vein Center, our expert, board certified vascular surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical techniques to effectively treat spider and varicose veins. Learn more at  or watch our Vein Center Video.