How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis When You Travel

How to Avoid a Blood Clot

You can lower your chances of a blood clot. Brand New Images / Getty Images

If you have a lengthy trip planned, you might want to make sure you work in some leg stretches along the way. That's because blood clots — or deep vein thrombosis — can happen if you're sitting for extended lengths of time, and not just on an airplane. Here's a look at how you can avoid a blood clot on your travels.

Deep vein thrombosis and the older adult: Serious blood clots become more common after the age of 60, and are twice as likely during long-distance travel lasting more than 4 hours.

If a blood clot forms in the leg, breaks off and gets stuck in the lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolism. Such an embolism can be fatal if left untreated.

To reduce your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism while traveling, you should:

  • Move your legs often in your seat
  • Do stretches by flexing and pointing your toes
  • Walk up and down the aisle
  • If you're traveling by car, stop every hour and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Wear compression socks or stockings if recommended by your doctor
  • Tell your health-care provider of your travel plans; you may be prescribed a blood thinner before your trip
  • Stay well-hydrated during your journey

Even people who have had a blood clot in the past should be able to travel safely with some precautions.


Deborah Nicolls Barbeau. "Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. Counseling & Advice for Travelers US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deep Vein Thrombosis. Transport Canada Public Information Sheet. Accessed June 21, 2013.

Deep Vein Thrombosis. US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Public Information Sheet. Accessed June 21, 2013.

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