Attention Frequent Flyers

by Mary Anna Marshall, CPhT, Certified Compression Fitter
September, 2001
Horizon Healthline

Do you know the risks and precautions regarding blood clots during air travel?

There is an increased awareness for a potentially dangerous condition. This problem exists within the air travel public because it is necessary to sit for hours in a cramped “coach” seat.

“Deep Vein Thrombosis” (DVT) is a medically dangerous condition. DVT begins when blood pools in the legs and forms a clot. A DVT happens when the clot gets stuck in a vein of the leg. DVT’s are very painful, and can lead to life-threatening health complications.

Complications occur when a piece of the clot breaks off and travels to other parts of the body. For example, a clot traveling into the brain can cause a stroke. A combination of gravity and inactivity makes clots more likely to form. Airline travel is one of many risk factors for DVT.

Travelers of all ages may be faced with the hazards of blood clots. A few prevention steps will cut your risk of developing DVT. Fortunately it’s not hard to reduce the risk of DVT during travel. The secret is to look for opportunities to move the muscles of the legs, including claves and thighs, on a regular basis whenever possible. Additional risk factors and suggested prevention steps are listed below.

Risk Factors for DVT

• Obesity
• Chronic Heart Disease
• Recent trauma or surgery
• Hormone therapy / birth control
• Any previous DVT
• Varicose veins
• Dehydration
• Alcohol consumption
• Constrictive Clothing

Prevention of DVT

• Stand up and stretch several times during each flight.
• Stretch and contract calf muscles with vigorous foot exercises.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Drink plenty of water during flight.

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