Going on a trip? Deep vein thrombosis, what you need to know.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a large (deep) vein in the leg. Part of the clot may break off and travel to the lungs, causing a sudden blockage of arteries in the lung. This is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). These conditions are rare, but it’s important to understand what causes them, if you are at risk, and what steps you can take to prevent them.

Almost anyone can have DVT, but if you’re traveling for a long time, such as on an international trip, you may be at increased risk. This increased risk more often occurs with air travel, where you’re in a confined space and it’s hard to get up and move around. But DVT can also happen when you are traveling by bus, train, or car.

Travel more than 4 hours carries a risk of DVT whether by plane, train, car or bus.

Most people who develop travel-associated DVT have other factors that increase their chance of developing a DVT. If any of the following risk factors apply to you , ask your doctor whether you need to wear compression stockings or take a blood thinner medicine to help prevent clots. 


  • A previous blood clot
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Known inherited clotting disorder
  • Recent surgery, hospitalization, or injury
  • Use of estrogen-containing birth control or hormone replacement therapy
  • Current or recent pregnancy
  • Older than 65
  • Obesity
  • Active cancer (or undergoing chemotherapy)
  • Other serious illnesses, including congestive heart failure or inflammatory bowel disease

You can take steps to help prevent DVT. These steps include

  • Move your legs and feet (raise your heels with your toes on the floor) and get out of your seat every hour or so
  • Drink plenty of water but avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Avoid sleeping pills
  • If you are driving stop every hour and walk for a few minutes.



Be alert to these signs and symptoms

Leg clot (DVT)

  • Swelling, pain, or tenderness usually in one leg
  • Skin that is red and warm to the touch

Lung clot (PE)

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  •  Faster than normal heartbeat
  • Chest pain that usually gets worse when you cough or breathe deeply
  • Coughing up blood
  • Lightheadedness or fainting


If you have symptoms of DVT, call a doctor right away. If you have symptoms of PE, you should seek immediate medical care from a doctor or hospital.


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