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Dec 29, 2011

Ways to Prevent Travel Associated Thrombosis

The rate of venous thrombosis increases with the duration of airline flight.  It is rare to see venous thrombosis in flights less than six hours in duration.  Factors that can increase the risk of venous thrombosis include a history of deep venous thrombosis or VTE, pregnancy, estrogen use (including oral contraceptives), malignancy, advanced age, obesity, immobility, recent major surgery, congestive heart failure, and thrombophilic disorders. 

Ways to prevent venous thrombosis while flying include:

General measures for all travelers:
  • Avoid dehydration;
  • Avoid constrictive clothing from the waist down;
  • Walk around the cabin at regular intervals if feasible (at least every 2 hours); and
  • Periodically flex and extend feet and knees.
Patients with risk factors for venous thrombosis should include these measures:
  • Properly fitted below-the-knee compression stockings providing 15-30 mm Hg pressure at the ankle; and
  • A single dose of low-molecular-weight heparin administered prior to departure for flights (and potentially other forms of travel) longer than 6-8 hours.