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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Medicine


Thrombosis

  • When does an increased risk of travel-related thrombosis arise?
    Sitting immobile for extended periods of time, with a lack of leg room, hinders the blood from flowing from the legs back towards the heart. While this problem is often associated with air travel, it can also occur on coach or train journeys and even on motorcycle trips. The reduced flow of blood favours the formation of blood clots (thrombus). In the worst case, parts of the blood clot can break off and become lodged in a blood vessel, blocking the blood supply to the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. In particular on long-haul flights, the lack of fluid intake also further aggravates the situation.

    Overall, travel-related thrombosis is rare. There are three different risk groups:

    1. Low risk:
    All travellers who undertake a journey lasting several hours (over 5 hours) in a sitting position and do not have any other risk factors for deep vein thrombosis.

    2. Medium risk:
    Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth (within the last four weeks), as well as people with at least two of the following risk factors:
    • aged over 60
    • severe varicose veins
    • existing cardiac problems
    • family history of deep vein thrombosis or blood clotting disorders
    • contraceptive pill or hormone replacements
    • obesity (BMI of over 30)
    • dehydration


    3. High risk:
    • Aged over 70
    • Personal history of thrombosis or embolism
    • Active cancer or cancer treatment
    • Chronic or acute illness
    • Immobilised leg (due to plaster cast, splint, paralysis, lameness)
    • Recent surgery


    Tips (for everyone):
    • Move enough (stand up, walk around, exercise your calf muscles by rotating your ankles)
    • Drink enough (avoid alcohol and coffee)
    • Avoid taking sedatives or sleeping pills


    For medium-risk travellers, also:
    • Wear compression stockings class I-II, possibly higher
    • In certain cases, have a blood-thinning injection (in consultation with your GP)


    For high-risk travellers, also:
    • Blood-thinning injection (in consultation with your GP)

     

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