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  • Never Fly Without Compression Socks

    Best travel compression socks

    If you travel a lot (especially on an airplane), it is important to wear compression socks to prevent blood clots and leg fatigue. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), also known as "economy class syndrome", occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in your leg, and is a very serious matter. It can cause leg pain, swelling and can lead to complications like Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

    Frequent fliers must be very careful to avoid blood clots. One of the best ways is to wear compression socks or tights. Generally 15-20mmHg compression is recommended for traveling and everyday wear, but may vary by person. Luckily, compression socks come in tons of colors and patterns, so you can always look stylish anywhere you go. Be careful of "travel socks" - socks that do not say what level of compression they provide. These travel socks often do not provide any compression and will not protect you from blood clots. You often find them in convenience stores or grocery stores, so make sure to read the label, even on the ones at the airport!

    Even if you are a healthy individual, you are still at risk. Professional tennis player, Serena Williams suffered from a life threatening blood clot after a flight from Los Angeles to New York and back. She was diagnosed with PE, which was caused when part of the blood clot broke off and traveled to her lungs. She had to take a step back from her intense training to recover. Long flights increase your risk of a blood clot from sitting for a long period of time, even if you regularly stay active.

    Long periods of immobility and being dehydrated can increase your risk of DVT. Before your flight, make sure you drink lots of water and get some rest. Drinking something with a lot of electrolytes is also a great way to prevent dehydration. You should also try to avoid coffee or soda before your flight. If you are able to stretch or briefly walk around the cabin during the flight, it will also help prevent clotting. If there's room, store your carry-on in the overhead compartment to give you more room to stretch your legs out. Getting an isle seat is ideal to be able to get up and walk around for a few minutes. Lastly, comfort is key. Wear loose clothing so you don't restrict blood flow.

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  • Serena Williams' Road to Victory

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08:  Serena Williams of United States of America poses with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen after victory in the Women's Singles Final match against Maria Sharapova of Russia  during day fourteen of French Open at Roland Garros on June 8, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)Serena Williams has been making headlines as she beats out her opponents, including her older sister, Venus, at Wimbledon this year. This is Serena’s 15th time beating Venus out of the 26 times they have faced off. The sisters have been making history for years, but now it is Serena’s time to shine as she works her way towards the finish line. It’s hard to think that a few years ago, Serena felt like she was on her “death bed” when she developed a blood clot after a cross-country flight to see a doctor about her recent foot surgery. She was treated for a hematoma and pulmonary embolism (PE), which happens when a blood clot is in the lung.

    Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms deep inside a vein. If part of the clot breaks off, it can travel into the lungs and block the flow of blood. This is a complication of DVT known as pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal if it is not caught quickly. Luckily for Serena, she discovered the clot after a trip to New York to see a doctor about her foot injuries. After having two surgeries on her foot and traveling back and forth between Los Angeles and New York, her risk of developing DVT and PE significantly increased. Surgery can slow down your blood circulation more than usual and being immobile during the recovery period may have contributed to her clot.

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    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 300,000 – 600,000 people develop blood clots annually. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood institute, there are about 100,000 cases of PE that are reported each year. You are more at risk of developing DVT if you have recently had a major surgery, sit or stand for long periods of time without moving around, or from increased amounts of estrogen in the body. Other factors include your family history, pregnancy, age, obesity, smoking or chronic medical illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, cancer and its treatment.

    be8d38c714c33b1b9a93c05fb8133326Many athletes are at risk of developing DVT and PE, and in some cases, it can even be fatal. Jerome Kersey, a former forward for the Portland Trail Blazers also developed pulmonary embolism when a blood clot developed in his leg and traveled into his lung, later killing him. Miami Heat basketball player Chris Bosh also suffered from pulmonary embolism after a road trip with the team. The symptoms of PE include shortness of breath, sweating, anxiety, sharp chest pain, increased heart rate and coughing.

    Why do athletes develop DVT when they are healthy and exercise? Between injuries, surgeries, long flights and tough work outs, athletes can be hard on their body. If you are dehydrated or have a low heart rate (a resting heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute), you are also more likely to develop a blood clot. When you are dehydrated, the plasma in your blood decreases, which makes your blood thicker and stickier.

    britain-wimbledon-tennis-70-630x332Since her blood clot, Serena Williams has battled her way to becoming one of the most notorious female tennis players today. She has won 34 total grand slam titles, 67 singles titles, 5 Wimbledons, 4 Gold Medals and many more honors. Not even a life-threatening blood clot could stop her from achieving her dreams. If you have had a blood clot, DVT or PE, or you are at a higher risk of developing one, you can wear compression socks or sleeves to help prevent them. Compression socks increase circulation to reduce the chance of a blood clot forming. Wear them while you travel or while you work out to enhance performance, speed up the recovery time, reduce swelling and prevent injuries like shin splints.

    Resources

    About Serena Williams

    Serena’s Schedule

    DVT Facts, Prevention, Symptoms and Risk Factors

    Are You At Risk For Varicose Veins?

    My Pulmonary Embolism Story

    Preventing Complications After Surgery

    The Downside of Low Heart Rate: Athletes Who Get Blood Clots

    The Risk Of Blood Clots On Long Flights

    Health Lessons from Serena Williams's Pulmonary Embolism

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