Safe Road Trips and Car Travel After Pulmonary Embolism or Blood Clot

Updated on May 19, 2017
Lwelch profile image

Lena Welch was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and factor V Leiden in 2008. She has participated in support groups for each condition.

Source

It is well established that air travel raises the risk of potentially fatal blood clots. Did you know, however, that traveling by car, bus, boat, and train can also be risky? Anytime that you sit still for more than 1-2 hours, your blood begins to coagulate. Coagulation means clots. This risk is increased for anyone who has thrombophilia, clotting disorders, surgery, pregnancy, hormone use, and/or a history of blood clots. Once you have had a pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you need to be extra cautious when traveling as you are at an increased risk of a second clot. As traveling is already a risk, if you have a history of clotting, you will need to be especially careful when you travel.

I am not a medical professional; I am a patient and advocate. Please bring your questions or ideas to your doctor.

How Unwanted Blood Clots Form

How to Prevent Clotting on Road Trips

Road trips and other extended car travel increase the risk of blood clots. Many people like to get in a car and drive straight through to their destination, only stopping when they need gas. It gets the trip over with more quickly, but puts the driver and occupants at a much larger risk. Blood clots can travel to the lungs, block the flow of oxygen, damage the lungs, possibly cause heart damage, and in a number of cases cause instant death. Luckily, they are easy to prevent.

The largest reason that the risk goes up on a road trip is that the car occupants are sitting still for hours on end. Blood that is pooled and sitting still has a tendency to form clots. People are at a greater risk for this happening when they are in one position for greater than 1-2 hours. The best rule of thumb is to take a break every hour or two. Get up, walk, and stretch and the risk of blood clots decreases.

The next thing that can increase risk on a road trip is dehydration. Many people worry about bathroom breaks while driving. They worry about restroom availability, cleanliness, and time used for the bathroom break. To decrease the need to urinate, people will often drink less while taking long car trips. This increases the risk of a potentially fatal blood clot. Make sure that you are drinking while you are driving. Avoid drinks that will irritate the bladder or are diuretics. Tea, coffee, and drinks with caffeine (soda) will all cause increased urination. This can contribute to dehydration and clots. It will also discourage you from drinking as you will get irritated about having to use the restroom frequently. Stick with water, Gatorade, Powerade, or Pedialyte.

Easy tips:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take a break every 1-2 hours.
  • Use a GPS device and have it recommend driving breaks.

Additional tips for high risk drivers and passengers:

  • Don't cross your legs.
  • Investigate the use of graduated compression stockings.
  • If at very high risk, ask your doctor about low molecular weight heparin.
  • Break your trip into small chunks and use hotels in between.
  • Have your INR checked 3-4 days before your trip to make sure that you are therapeutic.

My Personal Experience

When driving or being a car passenger, for every 8 hours in the car, I spend an hour out of the car. My TomTom is always on when I take longer trips. (By longer, I mean any trip that takes an hour or more in the car.) It has a great feature called, "driving breaks." It will alert me every two hours that I need to take a break. It gives me a 15 minute warning when I am getting close to my time. I can mark the time when I take my break and get back on the road again.

Throughout the trip I need to make sure that I am hydrated. I carry water and Gatorade with me. When it is hot or when I visit a dry climate, I must be very conscious of how much I am drinking and when my last drink was.

I had a pulmonary embolism July 18, 2008, and am at increased risk for a future clot due to that history and heterozygous Factor V Leiden. I have had no problems with car travel so far.

Further Reading

If you need information about air travel after a blood clot, please read my article on this topic:
How to Fly Safely After a Pulmonary Embolism or Blood Clot.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Chaz1968 

      20 months ago

      Hi Lena, was your PE provoked? Have you remained off of blood thinners? I'm terrified of reoccurrence. I had a PE unprovoked in April 2016 and tested positive for Heterozygous FVL. I was taking Xarelto for 10 months and recently got the ok to discontinue for one month on aspirin and see what DDimer reads. I've lost 50 lbs. and quit smoking, eat a very healthy diet and exercise. Hoping by reducing risk factors will help not to reclot. How are you doing ??

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, healdove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://healdove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)