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
- 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
- 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.