Traveller’s Thrombosis risk factors
The main risk factors for developing traveller’s thrombosis are staying seated on flights that take more than four hours, or travelling for more than six hours by car. This causes the circulation to start undergoing changes that may predispose the person to thrombosis.
Together, a lack of movement, atmospheric pressure and the reduction of circulatory velocity cause greater “stickiness” of the red blood cells, principally in the calves, due to the legs being bent for many hours. This situation can cause the formation of clots. However, although sitting with the legs bent is harmful to venous circulation, the risk of a clot forming is relatively low.
The following may increase the risk of experiencing thrombosis during travel:
Recommendations for journeys of over four hours
Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol and coffee.
Get up regularly and walk every 2-3 hours.
Do leg exercises and stretches while seated: lift the heels, lift the toes, contract and release the calf muscles.
Avoid crossing the legs.
Avoid wearing very tight clothing (belts, rubber).
People with risk factors that increase the chance of thrombosis are advised to consult a healthcare professional about the need for additional measures such as:
Use of compression socks while travelling.
Taking preventative treatment with heparin before travelling.