Jet Set Without the Threat: Avoid Blood Clots on the Go

Jet Set Without the Threat: Avoid Blood Clots on the Go

Travelling brings the image of creating memories filled with freedom and fun. We all dream of jetting off to an exotic destination, but stepping on a plane doesn't come without risks.

This month, we’re talking a silent threat on a long-haul flight. Deep vein Thrombosis (DVT) can turn your family break into a health emergency.

Ahead of summer plans this year, we want to help others understand the potential danger of blood clots when on the go.

Understanding Blood Clots

DVT is a type of blood clot that tends to start in a deep vein of the thigh or lower leg. It becomes dangerous if the clot breaks free in the blood stream and heads towards the lungs. It turns life-threatening when the clot gets stuck and cuts off oxygen supply. This can lead to a pulmonary embolism or worse, death.

Flight Risks

The risk of developing DVT is more common than not. There's only a 1 in 107,000 chance on a flight under four hours. But for flights over 16 hours, the statistic jumps to 1 in 1,200, and that's why preventative measures need to be taken.

Here, we explain why long periods of sitting, low humidity, and poor hydration sets the stage for DVT.

Prolonged Sitting

Sitting still for a long time can be a big issue, particularly if you have other risk factors. This includes being overweight, being inactive, or having blood-clotting disorders in the family. This lack of movement, and change in altitude, slows down blood flow.


Low cabin humidity can lead to dehydration. While that usual coffee or wine might seem like a good idea, these diuretics can make the situation worse.

Restricted Mobility

The lack of space in your plan seat limits movement, leading to stasis or slowed blood flow. For passengers with poor circulation or a history of DVT, the risks are even higher. Booking a seat with extra leg room, or on the aisle for a quicker exit is a good idea.

Prevention Tips

Dress for the Occasion

When flying it's best to wear non-restrictive clothing. Think about what's most comfy, light and loose-fitting. If you've got a history of blood clots then it's worth wearing flight compression socks. They're medically designed to reduce the risk of DVT during elongated travel. The compression helps with blood circulation and soothes swollen feet and ankles.

Keep on the Move

The easiest way to minimise time sat still is to get up and move. We don't mean jogging up and down the aisles, but standing up every hour or so will keep blood flowing. You can also do simple sat down exercises if you start to feel uncomfortable. Start with ankle circles, then progress to calf raises to stop your legs from cramping. These small movements can work wonders.

Hydration Is Your H2O-Hero

Staying hydrated is your first step and this should start before you even reach the airport. Try and drink a least of 250ml of water for every hour of flying to keep water levels up. Try and avoid caffeine or alcohol as they're dehydrating and affect blood pressure.

After Touch-Down

Over 60s are more likely to develop blood clots and need to be more alert when flying. Post-flight you want to be alert for signs and symptoms of DVT. This way you can seek medical attention as soon as possible, if needed.

  • Throbbing or cramping pain in the calf or thigh
  • Leg swelling
  • Skin feels warm around the painful area
  • Veins appear swollen, hard, or tender to touch
  • Red or darkened skin around the painful area
  • Breathless or chest pain (you must call 999 immediately)

Final Boarding Call

We don't want to put a dampener on your travel plans, but knowledge about DVT means you can fly with confidence. Remember to stay hydrated, keep moving, and pack your flight socks. We wish you a wonderful holiday and safe travels. Bon voyage!

Written for by Holly Dodd.