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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.

      In case of symptoms

      Seek medical advice if you suffer any symptoms. A DVT should be treated as soon as possible. The clot can detach and move with the blood to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). 

      Additional information for doctors

      Deep venous thrombosis and travelling

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