Preventing a blood clot when you travel
Before you travel, ask your cancer doctor or specialist nurse about your risk of a blood clot. They can tell you about anything you should do to help prevent blood clots.
Cancer can increase your risk of getting a blood clot (also called deep vein thrombosis or DVT). Long journeys can also increase your risk. It is important to think about how to reduce your risk of a blood clot if you have cancer and are planning to travel.
Wearing compression stockings for travel reduces your risk of a blood clot. This is important if you are going on a flight of 4 hours or more. Below-the-knee stockings apply gentle pressure to your ankles to help blood flow.
Make sure your compression stockings are properly measured and fitted for you. You can ask your nurse or a pharmacist for advice.
Possible symptoms of a blood clot include:
- pain, redness and swelling in a leg or arm
- chest pain.
Always get urgent medical help if you have any of these symptoms. If you have a blood clot, you need treatment straight away. A blood clot is serious, but your doctor can treat it with drugs that thin the blood.
Other tips to reduce your risk of developing a blood clot include:
- Book an aisle seat, especially on flights, to make it easier to move around.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing, especially around the waist and groin.
- When sitting, exercise your legs, feet and toes about every half an hour.
- Walk around when you can and try to walk up and down the aisles for a few minutes every hour.
- Try some upper body and breathing exercises – these also help improve your circulation.
- Avoid taking sleeping pills.
- Drink plenty of water, especially during flights.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, as this can dehydrate you.
We have more information about blood clots and cancer.