Blood Clot Prevention
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein. It forms most often in a calf or thigh and blocks blood flow. If a piece of the clot breaks off, it can travel to the lung and cause a pulmonary embolus (PE), which is a life-threatening emergency. The risk of DVT increases during periods of inactivity, such as on long plane flights. Birth control pills, pregnancy, recent surgery and cancer also increase risk of developing DVT.
Symptoms of calf DVT include swelling, redness, pain and increased warmth over the skin. Symptoms of PE are chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, anxiety and rapid heart beat.
Take steps to decrease risk of DVT and PE while traveling:
- Stay well hydrated while flying by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- Walk and stretch legs and arms every 1-2 hours during flight. Flex ankles every 15 minutes while sitting.
- Wear support hose or compression stockings.
- If you are at increased risk for developing DVT, discuss with your personal physician if you should take additional measures.
If you suspect that you have DVT or PE, seek medical care immediately.