A Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) is caused by a blockage of a vein by a ‘plug’ of red blood cells and proteins called a thrombus. Most often DVTs occur in the calf or thigh areas.

Under normal conditions blood from the foot is pumped back to the heart through the action of the calf muscles. However, when you are stationary for long periods of time without contracting the muscles in your legs, blood flow slows in the veins and DVTs can form. Avoiding the formation of a DVT is vital as when they dislodge they can cause heart attacks, strokes or pulmonary arrests.

Factors which increase the risk of DVT

Varicose veins

          • restricted movement combined with long periods of inactivity e.g. sitting in the economy class section of a tightly packed aeroplane with limited leg room
          • dehydration
          • obesity
          • smoking
          • varicose veins


When flying you can prevent the risk of DVT by:

  • avoiding crossing your legs
  • obtaining a seat with the maximum possible leg room
  • regularly doing foot and ankle exercises (every hour is the suggested frequency)
  • wearing loose clothes around the groin and leg
  • drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding substances that increase dehydration, such as cigarettes and alcohol
  • moving about the cabin whenever possible – especially during stopovers


Exercises to prevent DVT

  • move your ankles in circles, or imagine writing the alphabet with your toes
  • keep your heels on the floor and raise your toes, then put your toes down and raise your heels
  • while sitting, gently march your legs up and down
  • clench your buttocks and relax

Repeat each exercise 20-30 times, at regular intervals during your flight.

Items we stock to help the prevention of DVT

We stock Venosan compression stockings which are made with the recommended compression rates for DVT prevention.

Compression stockings