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      Deep venous thrombosis

      Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski, Matilde Hens

      A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs. It can occur after sitting still for a prolonged time during travel, such as during a flight or a car, bus or train ride lasting more than 4 hours. The risk increases with the duration of travel and when with additional risk factors:  

      • previous thrombosis
      • recent surgery 
      • active cancer
      • people with reduced mobility
      • pregnancy
      • women in the first 6 weeks after childbirth
      • estrogen use (e.g. contraceptive pill or hormone replacement tablets during menopause)
      • obesity (BMI > 30 kg/m2)
      • certain hereditary blood coagulation diseases (e.g. factor V Leiden) 
      • persons older than 60 years of age
      • large varicose veins in the legs
      • history of cardiovascular disease 

      Symptoms of a DVT include swelling, redness and pain in the affected limb, usually on one side. Sometimes the blood clot can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath or chest pain.



      • get up and walk around regularly (every 1-2 hours). 
      • a chair by the aisle can make this easier
      • do exercises that involve moving the knees and ankles
      • avoid taking alcohol or sleeping medication
      • drink plenty of water
      • wear loose, comfortable clothes

      compression stockings

      If you travel for more than 4 hours and have a risk factor:

      • consider wearing support stockings up to the knee.

      Anticoagulation medication

      If you travel for more than 4 hours and have ever had a blood clot, or have multiple risk factors:

      • discuss with your doctor whether the preventive use of an anticoagulant medication is recommended.  

      Acetylsalicylic acid

      Taking acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®) preventively has no proven preventive effect.

      Timely recognition of symptoms

      In case of symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

      Additional information for doctors

      Deep venous thrombosis and travelling

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