By Professor Mark Whiteley

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is the result of blood clotting whilst it is still inside the blood vessel. In the majority of cases, painful swelling in the leg will be experienced as a 'warning sign' however, this is not always the case and in some cases, no obvious symptoms will be presented.

Professor Mark Whiteley

Professor Mark Whiteley

There has been much written in the past about what factors will make it more likely for someone to develop a clot, for example - those who smoke, women taking oestrogen (either in the form of the contraceptive pill or HRT), or if a person is dehydrated.

There is also evidence to suggest that DVT is much more common in older people, with children carrying a very low risk.

At this time of year, as the masses prepare to jet off on their summer holidays the risk of developing DVT is naturally more prevalent in peoples' minds however, there are a number of simple things that we can all do, which will significantly reduce the chances of a clot developing. Here, internationally renowned vascular specialist, Professor Mark Whiteley of The Whiteley Clinic, shares his expert advice:

(1) Keep active when flying…

"Perhaps one of the most well-known causes of DVT is inactivity when on a long haul flight, and this is something which we should all be aware of when jetting off to the sun this summer. By reducing the activity in our legs, our blood flow becomes very sluggish in the deep veins - therefore putting us at a higher risk of a clot forming.

I always advise people to keep as active as possible when flying and ensure that you get up for a walk up and down the cabin aisle at least once per hour if you are on a long flight. I would also advise wearing properly fitted flight stockings. These speed up the flow of blood in the veins and therefore reduce the risks of the blood clotting."

(2) Stay Hydrated…

"When we don't drink enough water, the composition of our blood changes and becomes more concentrated. It is imperative to keep yourself fully hydrated when on a long flight as concentrated blood coupled with a long period of inactivity will heighten the risk of a clot forming. It is also important to remember this whilst on holiday, in preparation for the return flight as our water consumption needs to significantly increase when in a hotter climate. People also tend to drink more alcohol when on a summer break which will not only dehydrate you, but will also act as a diuretic meaning that even more fluid is passed out in your urine. To counteract this, make sure that you balance your alcohol consumption with water to keep hydrated."

(3) Kick the habit…

The walls of our blood vessels are lined with a special sort of cell which stops any normal blood from clotting on it. Unfortunately, smoking can seriously damage these cells, therefore enabling the blood to clot and increasing the risk of DVT. In order to reduce this risk, it is recommended that you try and give up smoking at least three months before you are scheduled to embark on a long haul flight.

(4) See a specialist…

"If you are ever uncertain as to whether or not you are suffering from a DVT, it is of vital importance that you go and see a vascular specialist at the earliest opportunity so that they can carry out a duplex ultrasound scan and advise on treatment based on the results. A proper DVT scan will include all veins from ankle to groin, including the pelvic veins.

If a DVT is identified and treated immediately, in the majority of cases the clot is dissolved and the vein will return to normal. However, very severe cases, the clot can be removed under x-ray control.

Rarely, but seriously if it occurs, a DVT can cause an extension of thrombus which can fly off to the heart and lungs - a condition called Pulmonary Embolus (PE). This is very serious and can even be fatal.

However most in most patients the DVT stays in the leg and does not move. However if the diagnosis is delayed and treatment not started, the clot can cause scar tissue in the wall, damaging the deep veins permanently. This can result in swollen, discoloured and painful legs, and sometime leg ulcers, a condition called post thrombotic syndrome (PTS)."

by for
find me on and follow me on