Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition characterized by the formation of blood clots in deep veins, commonly occurring in the legs. Long flights, where individuals are immobile for extended periods, increase the risk of DVT. It is essential to take preventive measures to minimize the likelihood of developing DVT during air travel. In this guide, we will provide you with tips and strategies to prevent DVT on long flights.
I. Stay Active and Exercise
One of the most effective ways to prevent DVT is to stay active and exercise during your flight. Perform leg exercises at regular intervals, such as ankle rotations, toe raises, and knee bends. Take short walks up and down the aisle whenever possible to promote blood circulation. These movements help prevent blood from pooling and reduce the risk of clot formation (Di Nisio et al., 2018).
II. Wear Compression Stockings
Compression stockings are specially designed to apply pressure to the legs, aiding in blood flow and reducing the risk of DVT. Consider wearing compression stockings during your flight, especially if you have a history of DVT or are at a higher risk. These stockings should fit properly and be of the appropriate compression level, so consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you choose the right type for your needs (Cohen et al., 2018).
III. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can contribute to the development of blood clots. Drink plenty of water before and during your flight to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration. Hydration helps maintain healthy blood flow and reduces the viscosity of the blood, lowering the risk of clot formation (Schobersberger et al., 2018).
IV. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of DVT not only during air travel but also in general. Maintain a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Regular exercise and physical activity outside of air travel also promote good circulation and overall cardiovascular health. If you have underlying medical conditions or take medications that increase your risk of DVT, consult with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations (Di Nisio et al., 2018).
V. Choose an Aisle Seat, if Possible
Opting for an aisle seat on long flights provides more freedom to move around and stretch your legs. It allows you to easily get up and walk along the aisle without disturbing fellow passengers. If an aisle seat is not available, consider booking an exit row seat with extra legroom to allow for more movement and stretching during the flight.
VI. Consider Medication or Medical Devices
In certain situations, your healthcare provider may recommend medication or medical devices to reduce the risk of DVT during long flights. Anticoagulant medications, such as low-molecular-weight heparin, may be prescribed for individuals at high risk of DVT. Additionally, intermittent pneumatic compression devices, which periodically inflate and deflate to stimulate blood flow, can be used during the flight (Schobersberger et al., 2018). Consult with your healthcare provider to determine if these options are suitable for you.
Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) during long flights is crucial for ensuring a safe and healthy travel experience. By staying active, exercising, wearing compression stockings, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, selecting an appropriate seat, and considering medication or medical devices when necessary, you can significantly reduce the risk of DVT. Prioritize your well-being and follow these preventive measures to enjoy a comfortable and safe journey.
Cohen, A. T., Agnelli, G., Anderson, F. A., Arcelus, J. I., Bergqvist, D., Brecht, J. G., ... & Geerts, W. (2018). Venous thromboembolism (VTE) in Europe. The number of VTE events and associated morbidity and mortality. Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 98(4), 756-764.
Di Nisio, M., van Es, N., Büller, H. R., & Deep Vein Thrombosis Study Group. (2018). Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The Lancet, 388(10063), 3060-3073.
Schobersberger, W., Schmid, P., Lechleitner, M., von Duvillard, S. P., Hörtnagl, H., Gunga, H. C., ... & Klingler, A. (2018). Travel and venous thrombosis: a systematic review. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 120(1-2), 24-30.