FAQ Answer

FAQ Answer

DVT - Am I at risk of a blood clot when flying?

Blood Cells 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


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Electrically powered medical equipment - Can I take my electrically powered medical equipment in my hand baggage?
  2. Travel Insurance - Do I need to obtain travel insurance for my trip?
  3. What is the risk of contagious disease (an infection that may be passed from one person to another) when flying?
  4. Nut Allergy - I have a nut allergy, am I at risk while travelling by air?
  5. Pregnancy - I am pregnant, is it safe for me to travel by air?
  6. Diabetes - I have diabetes, is there any special advice for diabetic people who wish to travel by air?
  7. Fear of Flying - I am very nervous at the thought of using air travel as a form of transport. Is there any treatment for my fear of flying and what causes it?
  8. Recent Surgery - I have recently had surgery. Are there any restrictions when travelling by air?
  9. Respiratory Disease - I have a lung condition which makes me breathless sometimes. Am I liable to have problems on an airplane?
  10. Disinsection - Is the spraying of aircraft cabins (disinsection) carried out on some flights harmful to health?
  11. Oxygen - I have been told that I require oxygen for my flight. Can I take my own supply?
  12. Anaemia - I suffer from anaemia and wonder if this would be a problem when flying.
  13. Ear Pain - I notice that I frequently get ear pain when travelling by air, what causes this and what can I do about it?
  14. Security scanners - Are airport security scanners safe?
  15. Security scanners - Are the whole-body scanners safe?
  16. Security scanners - Can medical equipment such as heart pacemakers or insulin pumps be affected by security scanners?
  17. Heart Conditions - I have a heart condition; will I be able to travel by air?
  18. Contact Lenses - I wear contact lenses. What is the advice about wearing lenses during my flight and is there any guidance for taking lens solution on board the aircraft?
  19. DVT - Am I at risk of a blood clot when flying?
  20. Dry eyes and skin - After a long flight, why do my eyes and my skin feel dry?
  21. Jet Lag - What is Jet Lag and how can it be treated?
  22. Seat Pitch - The seats appear to be closer together these days on many flights. What regulations apply?
  23. Carriage of Medication - Can I take my medication on board the aircraft?
  24. Defibrillators - Is it compulsory for airlines to carry a defibrillator on an aircraft?
  25. Sleep Apnoea - I suffer from sleep apnoea; can I take my Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine on board the aircraft as hand luggage for use in the aircraft cabin?
  26. Cabin Air Quality - What is the quality of air on board an aircraft?
  27. Infections - Why do I always pick up an infection after I have travelled in an aircraft?
  28. Vaccinations - I am travelling abroad, will I need vaccinations prior to travel?
  29. Malaria - Is it still a problem these days?
  30. Psychiatric Condition - I have a psychiatric condition, which requires me to take medication and I worry that air travel may worsen my condition or that I may not be able to travel.
  31. Reduced Mobility - I have reduced mobility and wish to travel by air. Where can I find more information about my rights to assistance during my journey and will I need a medical certificate?
  32. Plaster Cast - If I have a broken limb with a plaster cast on, can I still fly?
  33. Vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) - I use a Vagus nerve stimulator as part of my treatment for seizures. Can I take my device on board the aircraft?