What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein due to slowing of blood flow during a period of immobility. This often occurs in the legs and early signs may include pain in the calf or thigh muscles of one or both legs, warmth, discolouration and/or swelling of the leg. DVTs can also go unnoticed. Not being able to move around on a long flight, train or car ride can increase a person’s risk for travel related blood clots. If a blood clot moves then it could reach the lungs or brain resulting in a life threatening condition.

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a DVT such as:

  • Flights over 4 hours
  • Age 50+ years
  • Obesity
  • Height
  • Late pregnancy and postpartum
  • Family history
  • Recent surgery
  • Recent immobilization
  • Oral birth control pill
  • Clotting disorders
  • Recent cancer or current chemotherapy
  • Previous episode(s)


To avoid blood clots during long journeys:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excessive alcohol
  • Stretch your legs and walk around periodically
  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Avoid crossing legs
  • Reconsider sleeping aids or sedatives
  • Consider wearing support stockings to improve circulation to your legs


Report symptoms

  • Present to an emergency department if you are experiencing shortness of breath, pain while breathing, or any other symptoms as above, during or after travel.
  • For health information 24 hours a day, call 811 in Alberta for advice from Health Link.
  • Inform your family doctor if you experience leg symptoms as above, up to 4 weeks after travel.
  • Contact us for a pre-travel consultation and education specific to DVT prevention.