DVT and air travel or the ‘Economy Class
(courtesy of the VSSGBI,
for more information contact vascularsociety.org.uk
via the links
Flow within the major veins is reduced during
long periods of sitting, and if the blood is ‘sticky’
clots can form. There is growing evidence that
long haul travel is associated with an increased
risk of deep vein thrombosis, or a clot in the
major deep leg veins.
The risk of a DVT probably increases whether the
travel is by car, coach, air or train.
We know that the following groups of people are
at a greater risk of developing a DVT after major
Tips to reduce
the risk of a DVT
Having had a DVT or pulmonary embolism before
Having had a recent major operation
The contraceptive pill
hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Malignant disease (cancer)
Obesity (being overweight)
1. Move your legs.
- Don’t sit with your legs bent for
hours on end. Stretch your legs out from time
to time, and move your feet up and down at
the ankles. Stand up to stretch the legs now
and then. Stretching and moving the legs stops
blood stagnating in the deep veins of the
calf, and is the simplest and most effective
thing you can do.
- Go for a walk up and down the aisle.
2. Don’t get dehydrated.
- Drink plenty of fluid – water is
- Avoid excessive alcohol, which tends to
3. Wear compression stockings.
- Graduated compression stockings reduce
the risk of DVT. They also help to prevent the
ankle swelling which many people experience on
- BELOW KNEE stockings are the most comfortable
kind, and seem just as effective as full length
- Medical graduated compression stockings
are supplied in three classes: Class 1 or Class
2 stockings are suitable for most people (Class
3 are excessively strong for this purpose).
- Compression stockings can be prescribed
by a doctor if there is a medical need. They can
be bought at chemists, surgical appliance specialists,
and now at some other shops, for example in airports.
- These stockings come in a range of sizes,
and your legs will need to be measured to get
the right fitting.
- People who have trouble with the arteries
of their legs should seek medical advice before
using compression stockings.
Taking an aspirin tablet (either a 75mg “junior
aspirin” or a normal 300mg aspirin tablet)
a few hours before a long journey may provide
a small amount of extra protection against DVT.
Special anticoagulant drugs (e.g. heparin injections,
or warfarin by mouth) may be advisable for a few
people who have medical conditions with a particularly
high risk for DVT. This kind of treatment will
always be on the explicit advice of a doctor.
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