In the air health check

The risk of getting deep vein thrombosis (commonly referred to as DVT) during a flight is low, but it’s real. DVT is blood clotting in a major vein, most commonly in the legs or lower body, which causes blood flow to slow down or stop.

We ask Dr Sam Hay, Australian GP and former host of Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, for his top tips to prevent DVT:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water inflight and limit alcohol, tea and coffee.

  • Keep moving. Every 30 minutes you should do a minute of exercises like calf raises, bending your knees or circling your ankles. Walk around the cabin when the seatbelt signs are switched off.

  • Don’t wear clothing that restricts you from moving in your seat or puts pressure on your thighs.

  • On flights longer than three hours, wear compression stockings to reduce your risk.

  • Pregnant women, smokers, elderly people and those with heart disease or a family history of DVT are more susceptible. See your doctor before your next flight for further tips on how to prevent DVT when flying.

If you have concerns about your particular health risks, seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner.

Dr Sam Hay - Published 5 December 2019
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