Deep Vein Thrombosis - Blood Clots
How DVT is
Associated with Long Distance Travel
Vein Thrombosis (DVT) may be associated with any form
of long distance travel whether by air, car, coach or
train but it is often referred to as "economy class
syndrome" when it occurs to airline passengers.
following information provides a brief overview of the
problem and advice on how to avoid this risk.
What is deep vein thrombosis?
vein thrombosis is a condition where a thrombus or blood
clot forms within a deep vein, typically one in the thigh
or the calf. This blood clot can either partially or completely
block the flow of blood in the vein. In extreme cases,
this clot can break free from a vein wall and travel to
the lung and block an artery. This pulmonary embolism(PE)
could lead to serious injury or death. In pregnant women,
this kind of embolism could lodge in the placenta and
put the fetus at risk.
do you get deep vein thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis is a problem that is caused by pooling
of blood in the vein, which triggers blood-clotting mechanisms.
Anyone who sits for long periods of time in a vehicle,
movie theater, or even an office desk may develop clumps
of clotted blood in the legs. Airline passengers in coach
seating are particularly vulnerable because of the sometimes
dense seating and limited ability to get up and move around.
However, even passengers in business and first class are
How serious is DVT?
in every hundred people who develop DVT dies. Treatment
of DVT and PE is with blood-thinning drugs or anticoagulants,
including warfarin and heparin. Aspirin in low doses also
acts as a blood thinning drug and is used to prevent clotting
conditions in the arteries like coronary thrombosis. Its
benefit in preventing DVT is debatable. DVT combined with
PE or other blood clots is often referred to as Venous
Thrombo-Embolism or VTE.
What are the symptoms?
may vary widely. A mild case may have no symptoms.
When symptoms do occur, they could include the following:
and redness in the affected area
and swelling in areas drained by the vein where the
blood clot is located
pain and soreness
I at risk?
If you have at least one of the following conditions,
you may be at higher risk:
the age of 60
accident, surgery, or other trauma
of oral contraceptives
history of clotting problems
can I do about it?
There are several things that you can do to reduce your
clothing that may help your circulation
graduated compression stockings (TEDs). This is important
for travelers who have other risk factors for DVT
up and move around at least once an hour
you have to remain seated, flex your ankles and move
your feet in a circular motion.
plenty of water before and during the flight
your in-flight alcohol consumption
cross your legs or ankles
medical advice before traveling if you feel that you
may be at risk
doctors recommend taking aspirin before traveling because
of its blood thinning effects. But it is not suitable
for children and can have side effects. If in doubt, seek
advice from a pharmacist or doctor.
People who have one or more of the risk factors mentioned
earlier should seek medical advice before traveling.
Anyone who develops swelling or pain in the leg, or breathing
problems after traveling should seek medical advice urgently.