How to Prevent Blood Clots When Traveling

Over the river and through the woods… it’s that time of year again.

As millions of Americans prepare to travel during the holidays, it’s important to remember that sitting for prolonged periods can cause serious, potentially fatal blood clots.

What are blood clots?

Blood clots, also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can form when the flow of the blood in your body is either stopped or slowed to a near-stop. Either these clots can dissolve on their own, or they can turn into something far worse.

If the clots are unable to dissolve on their own, they can make their way to your brain, heart, or lungs, causing severe damage to your organs, or possibly even death. This is called pulmonary embolism, and, according to the CDC, somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 Americans die of PE every year.

Who is susceptible to blood clots?

Anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus, or train, can be at risk for blood clots. However, most people who develop travel-associated blood clots have one or more other risks for blood clots, such as:

  • Varicose veins

  • Older age (risk increases after age 40)

  • Obesity

  • Recent surgery or injury

  • Use of estrogen-containing contraceptives

  • Pregnancy and the postpartum period

  • Previous blood clot or a family history of blood clots

  • Active cancer or recent cancer treatment

How to prevent blood clots while traveling

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent blood clots from forming during long distance travel. Here are a few:

Move Every Hour

If you’re on a plane, bus, or train this means getting up and walking around every hour. A quick stroll up and down the aisle is enough to get your blood moving.

If you’re traveling by car, stop every hour so that you can get out, stretch and walk around.

Wear Loose Clothing

The tighter your clothing, the more restricted your blood flow will be. Stick to loose-fitting clothes when traveling.

Do some light stretching

These stretches can be done in your seat if you absolutely can’t get up or stop every hour, and can also be done in between your movement periods.

  • Pull your knees towards your chest, hugging them in for approximately 15 seconds. Do this up to 10 times.

  • Slide your feet back and forth on the floor of the plane, bus or car to stretch out your muscles.

  • Push your heels and toes (alternate) into the ground to flex your calf muscles.

Talk to your doctor

If you are concerned that you are at higher risk for blood clots, talk with your doctor about other preventative measures. Many doctors recommend wearing compression stockings to help keep your circulation going. Your doctor may also prescribe a blood thinner.

Blood clots are highly avoidable and should not interfere with your ability to travel. Following these tips can go a long way to reducing your risk. If you are concerned about the possibility of blood clots or are suffering from vein issues, contact Elmore Medical to discuss your options.


Elmore Medical Vein & Laser Treatment Center is the premier vein specialty medical practice in the Central Valley. Dr. Mario H. Gonzalez and his staff offer years of experience and medical expertise that you won’t find anywhere else. Contact us today to set up a consultation appointment.

Chase SchwarzwalterComment