Fit for travel? How to reduce your risk of DVT on long haul flights

06 February 2019

We all need our blood to clot to prevent dangerous blood loss following a cut or injury. However, sometimes our blood can clot inappropriately and can form a thrombosis, most commonly known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Your risk of DVT is increased when you’re jetting off on a long haul flight due to extended periods of sitting, prolonged inactivity and dry cabin air. However, the risk varies hugely among passengers, have a read of our latest blog on how to reduce your risk of DVT.

There are certain conditions that may further increase your risk of DVT on a long haul flight, these include:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Recent surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Thrombophilia
  • History of DVT
  • Heart disease

Reducing your risk before you travel

If you believe you may be at risk of DVT it’s vital you visit your GP before travelling. Ensure you book an appointment in advance in case you require medication or compression stockings.

Compression stockings (flight socks) apply gentle pressure to the ankle to help blood flow. It is important that compression stockings are measured and worn correctly, please seek advice from a pharmacist or health professional as ill-fitting stockings could further increase your risk of DVT.

Reducing your risk of DVT in-flight

Significantly reducing the chances of a clot developing are easier than you may think. Take simple steps such as moving! Walk around whenever possible as one of the most common causes of DVT is inactivity, this is a great way to kill some boredom when you’re exhausted the airlines movie collection!

So, you’ve gone to the trouble of getting compression socks fitted and bought, ensure you wear them! Wearing properly fitted flight socks may not be the most fashionable but your health will never go out of fashion.

It is vital to keep fully hydrated during your flight – with water, not alcohol! It may be tempting to take advantage of some free alcohol, but not only will it give you a banging headache, it increases your risk of DVT by acting as a diuretic.

What to do if you suspect DVT

Although not all cases of DVT are symptomatic, they can include: pain and swelling in one of your legs, aching, warm skin or red skin. If you suspect DVT visit your GP immediately or see a vascular specialist here at Spire Harpenden Hospital. To find out more please give one of our friendly self-pay advisers a call on 01582 714 420.

We hope you all enjoy our holidays! If you're jetting off to a sunny location, read more about staying safe in the sun.

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