|A blood clot or Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), as it is known, can occur in individuals with specific risk factors at any time. |
The risk factors for DVT include age greater than 40, previous DVT or blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) or a history of such conditions within the family.
Other factors that are found to be important are hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, the use of the oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy. Recent surgery or trauma and many forms of cancer can also be associated with increased clotting of the blood.
In addition to these factors, there are some inherited abnormalities of the blood clotting system which may pre-dispose individuals to DVT and pulmonary embolism.
Recent research has been published on DVT, which confirms that immobility is an extremely important factor and that being seated for more than four hours in a car, bus, train or an aircraft may increase the risk of blood clotting. WHO - Wright Project
Simple measures may reduce the risk of blood clotting; these include increasing mobility by walking around the aircraft cabin and carrying out simple lower leg exercises that are illustrated in many in-flight magazines.
Drinking adequate amounts of non-alcoholic beverages is important on a long flight, but the routine use of aspirin has not been shown to reduce the risk of clotting which takes place in the veins of the leg. In addition, there is a potential hazard with aspirin and the balance between benefit and harm is not in favour of aspirin and thus its routine use cannot be recommended. However, individuals who may have any of the risk factors outlined should seek medical advice, and it may be that in certain circumstances compression stockings or therapy directed at preventing the clotting process may be appropriate.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a DVT associated with travel, the journey home should not be a problem. It is important that any “blood thinning” treatment is stabilised before travel in order that maximum protection is afforded. It is worth letting the airline know and your treating physician can give details via the MEDIF Form
Further information is published on this subject by:
The Department of Health - The Advice on travel-related DVT - Policy and guidance