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Why you shouldn't ignore leg pain on a flight

A Houston woman is sharing her story after she developed blood clots after a long flight and car ride last Christmas.

HOUSTON — AAA projects this to be one of the busiest travel seasons in 20 years. Nearly 9 million Texans are expected to travel over the holidays. 

That’s why a Houston woman is sharing her story now.

She developed blood clots after a long flight and car ride last Christmas.

“We flew to Boston then the next day we drove to Vermont. Walking around Vermont, I had leg pain which I ignored because I thought I was out of shape,” Rebecca Lilley said.

Over the next several weeks, calf and leg pain got worse. Doctors discovered blood clots from her ankle up to her abdomen. After surgery, a follow-up scan revealed a more serious blockage.

“The doctor called me at 11:20. I remember like it was just now. He said, ‘You have two blood clots sitting on your right lung and one sitting on your heart.' Looking back, there are some days it overwhelms me because I was a timebomb from December all the way to March,” Lilley said.

She is sure traveling over the holidays was a factor.

Doctors said blood pools in the legs when you sit for long periods of time. The altitude from flying increases the risk of blood clots.

Dr. Naveed Saqib, a vascular surgeon with UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann Hospital, shared tips to prevent blood clots while traveling.

“What I would say is drink plenty of fluids, take compression garments, and have a tendency to move around,” Saqib said.

Patients with a history of deep vein thrombosis should talk to their doctors before long flights for additional recommendations.

Lilley hopes sharing her experience will save someone else’s life.

“When you have a blood clot that gets to your heart, usually you die. There’s a purpose for me to be here and I’m going to live it out,” she said.

Stephanie Whitfield on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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