Travel trials: Avoiding deadly blood clots

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - It's not how you want to start spring break -

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"You're going to get short of breath, you're going to have some chest discomfort, you're going to have a general feeling of unease and worry," says Christopher Whited, PA-C, with Essentia Health.

And those are symptoms of a bigger and more dangerous problem.

"Slow-moving blood that's too thick with not so good veins - and then you can form a clot," Whited says. "The longer your travel is, the higher your chances of something like that happening. Especially if you're going to sit stationary... A pulmonary embolism can be life threatening."

If you think this couldn't happen to you - think again. Health experts say anyone traveling more than four hours at a time is at risk.

Trouble breathing, dizziness, chest pain, and anxiety are all tell tale signs that something may be wrong - and you should get help immediately, especially if you're on the road.

"You're operating this 3,000 - 4,000 pound or more piece of metal down the roadway - so it's one of those things that really - in that situation - can complicate that and make a bad situation even more dangerous," says Sgt. Jesse Grabow, with the Minnesota State Patrol.

"Next thing you know, your 80 mile an hour car is going to go into oncoming traffic, into the car next to you, maybe off into the ditch," Whited adds.

Because in this case - getting help could save your life.

"When you're starting to feel any of those symptoms - that onset coming on - please let us know and we'll definitely get you the help that we can," Sgt. Grabow says.

"I would rather see a thousand people and say nope, you're good - than miss one, and have to go to their funeral. And that haunts me," says Whited.

So how can you prevent getting a blood clot? Experts say staying hydrated helps. They suggest bringing something to drink, or getting water from rest stops or the drink cart. Also, make sure to flex your leg muscles. If you can, stand up and walk around - but if that's not possible, keep your blood flow moving by squeezing your thighs and calves and picking up your heels and toes up.

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