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Long Distance Travel, Flights and the Risk of Blood Clots

In this day and age, it is pretty unheard of, for a person to have never set foot, on a plane. Travelling thousands of miles in a month is pretty common for me, in the course of my job and today I want to highlight how important fitness is during the long haul travel. One needs to take measures to ensure that one is not immobile for a prolonged time as this sets the stage for dangerous events to occur. I just recently read a great book on Deadly Blood Clots: The Dangers Of Venous Thromboembolism, and how to prevent them. I highly recommend this book if you are the reading sort – very informative and full of practical tips too.

In June of 2007, the World Health Organization released the results of a study about travel and blood clots. The study revealed that the risk for deep vein thrombosis ( DVT ), and pulmonary embolism doubles for immobile passengers traveling, once they have been seated for more than 4 hours. The chances of having a clot increases once blood is not circulating properly through the legs. You can take measures to prevent blood clots during a long air flight, train or car ride, by just being aware and observing some simple steps.

Blood Clot Prevention

When we move about during the day with normal movement and physical activity, the muscles in the legs contract,which helps move blood from the legs toward the heart. But when your leg muscles aren’t contracting, blood can pool in the veins, raising the risk that a blood clot will form.

A blood clot in your vein, or DVT, puts you at risk for pulmonary embolism, a clot that travels from leg to lung; however, a clot in an artery, or arterial thrombosis, can cause a heart attack or stroke. If you’re concerned, ask your doctor about risk factors for arterial thrombosis. To lessen your risk of DVT on long flights, it’s important to maintain good blood circulation. Here are some tips on how to reduce the risk of Blood Clots, during Long distance Travel:


Observing these 4 simple steps, you can reduce your risk of getting blood clots:

Step 1

Get up and walk around the cabin every two hours, if you can. The small cabins and turbulence can make moving around the plane difficult but try and walk around as often as possible.

Step 2

Straighten your legs as far as possible. Point your toes back and forth and move your ankles in circles. If you are unable to walk around, keep the blood flowing in your legs by moving them around. Do these exercises 10 times every hour.

Step 3

Stay awake. Short naps are OK but falling into a deep sleep for the majority of your flight will prevent you from moving around. For this reason, don’t take sleeping pills and limit your alcohol consumption before and during your flight.

Step 4

Consider wearing compression socks or stockings. These encourage blood flow from the feet up helping prevent blood clots and swelling of the feet.

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