Risk of blood clots and DVT during Your Airplane

Are You at Risk of blood clots and DVT during Your Airplane Travel?

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 300 million people all over the globe travel long-distance flights annually. Long flights are defined to be more than 4 hours of air travel.  During such flights, there’s a great chance that an individual can have a DVT or deep venous thrombosis.  It is a blood clot in a deep leg veins that can be a high-risk or life-threatening should the clot goes to the lungs, forming pulmonary embolism.


Risk of blood clots and DVT during Your Airplane
Risk of blood clots and DVT during Your Airplane


People who are highly at risk of DVT are the following:


  • Obese or overweight
  • 40 years old and older
  • History of deep vein clot or DVT
  • Use hormone medications
  • Pregnant women
  • Have genetic predisposition on DVT


However, further studies from the departments of Clinical Epidemiology and Thrombosis and Haemostasis at Leiden University in the Netherlands indicate that your “seat choice” for your flight can allow DVT to develop during such time.


Passengers who seat near a window are twice more likely to develop DVT compared to those who have their sitting position near the aisle.  Overweight or obese passengers who are in window seat pose have even greater risk (about 6 times much higher to passengers who have regular weight and are in aisle seat.  Meanwhile passengers sitting in a middle seat have no increased risk of DVT. Passengers in business class have 70% lower risk of developing DVT compared to those who are occupying the economy section.


The experts and researchers have not yet drawn their direct conclusion on this theory but they hypothesize that window seats tend to be more cramped than aisle seats, especially for passengers who are obese.


In order to avoid DVT, individuals who find themselves under the high-risked group must do the following:


  • Choose aisle seats
  • Do calf muscle exercises like flexing and stretching while seated
  • Walk up and down the aisle during the flight
  • Wear compression knee socks
  • Stay hydrated