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What is the best way to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

There are several good ways to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), but the simplest is to exercise your calves. If you are sitting for long periods during the day, make sure to get up and walk around every half hour. This activates the all-important calf muscle pump in your legs, which keeps venous blood from pooling, which otherwise can eventually lead to the formation of blood clots. If you are unable to get up, stretch and flex your calf muscles while you are sitting. Those who are hospitalized or on bed rest at home should also work their arm, leg and neck muscles periodically (or have a nurse or family member do it for you) to prevent blood from pooling in veins. Other good things to do include drinking lots of water and wearing loose clothes when traveling, maintaining a healthy weight and talking to your doctor about dealing with increased risk if pregnant or taking hormone therapy.

Dr. Sandip T. Maru, MD
Vascular Surgeon

The best way to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is to understand your risk and take precautions when traveling. DVT risk factors specifically related to flying include dehydration—which can contribute to clotting—and immobility. Be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol when flying. Try to get up and walk around the cabin at least once an hour. (The same goes for trips by train, bus or car.)

Do exercises while seated to boost circulation. Try foot circles, foot lifts—heels on the floor and toes stretched high then toes on the floor and heels stretched high—shoulder rolls, knee lifts and stretches.

If you’re concerned about DVT, talk to your doctor before traveling. He or she will help you identify any potential issues and may recommend blood thinning medications or compression stockings depending on your travel plans.

DVT can occur during a trip or after you reach your destination, so be on the lookout for symptoms. If you think you have DVT, don’t just ignore the symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately. It could save your life.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.