Deep Vein Thrombosis

Photo by ChesiireCat/Getty Images. International Travel: Woman wearing protective stockings with raised legs on suitcase to  help prevent thrombosis.

Pre-travel Personal Planning


Travelers with an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot forming in a vein, should discuss this risk with their healthcare provider and take action to decrease the risk. Travelers who have any of the following conditions have a greater risk of getting DVT:

  • Obesity
  • Estrogen use
  • Pregnancy or postpartum
  • Thrombophilia or gene mutations
  • Older age
  • Family history of venous thromboembolism or previous DVT
  • Active cancer
  • Recent surgery, hospitalization, or trauma
  • Serious medical illnesses like heart failure or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Flights taking longer than 6 hours can increase your risk of DVT

The following actions can help decrease the risk of DVT:

  • Avoid tight clothing during travel.
  • Walk through the aisles during flight.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.
  • Exercise the calf muscles during the flight: circle the feet clockwise and counterclockwise; lift toes and heels.
  • Wear support stockings.
Page last reviewed: August 28, 2019