Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of DVT.
It is possible to treat DVT with blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants), including warafin and heparin. Low doses of aspirin are believed to have a similar effect, though its effectiveness in preventing DVT remains disputed.
The treatment of established DVT is carried out by administering an enzyme which can dissolve the clot – Tissue Plasimnogen Activator (TPA).
- Always drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Do not drink alcohol before or during the flight, as this can compound dehydration.
- Try and keep your thighs clear of the edge of your seat. Use foot rests as far as possible.
- Take a brisk walk for half an hour before the flight.
- Regularly go for a short walk to the restroom to keep your legs moving during the flight.
- Try a few simple exercises to keep your legs moving, by rotating your ankles, pointing your heel and toe alternately and lifting your knees whilst seated every half hour for a short period.
- Try and tense your leg muscles as regularly as possible throughout the flight.
- Wear elastic flight socks (elastic compression stockings) especially designed to reduce the risk of DVT. These are readily available at most pharmacies.
- The day before the flight, take a low dose of aspirin (100mg – 150mg), during the flight, and for three days following the flight.
If you are known to be a high risk patient of (click here for more information), then it possible to stop the blood from clotting, via the injection of low-molecular-weight heparin. This is a anticoagulant, which thins the blood. It cannot prevent DVT if a clot has already formed.
Despite the serious nature of DVT, it is vital to stress that occurrences of DVT are very rare, and only a very tiny minority will ever need to take medication during a flight to prevent DVT. The best advice for all travellers, is to regularly carry out a serious of series of simple leg exercises which keep the leg muscles moving throughout the duration of the flight.