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Can you Fly with a Blood Clot?

Blood clots are a medical issue that is often linked with long plane journeys, as being inactive for extended periods of time can make you more susceptible to developing them.

This article answers the questions of ‘can you fly on a plane with a blood clot?’ and ‘how long after a blood clot can I fly?’ to ensure that you stay safe on your next journey.

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What is a Blood Clot?

A blood clot forms when the blood in your veins turns from liquid to a gel or semi-solid state. This can be useful when you cut your skin and clots form to prevent blood loss, but if a blood clot appears in your blood vessels or lungs and does not dissolve, it can cause serious health complications.

If an abnormal blood clot forms and does not dissolve, it can restrict the amount of blood that gets to the heart through a vein or artery and cause a lot of pain and swelling as blood builds up behind this clot. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is caused by a blood clot in a major vein, usually in the leg but sometimes in the arm or pelvis. If the clot then detaches, it can travel through the heart to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism (PE) which can be fatal.

There are a variety of different medical conditions and types of medication that make people more susceptible to blood clots, and long periods of inactivity can also cause them to form. Sitting in the same position on a long-haul flight can sometimes cause blood clots to form, which is why knowing what to look out for before a plane journey is so important.

Can you Fly on a Plane with a Blood Clot?

If you have been diagnosed with a blood clot or only just recently recovered from a blood clot or a condition like deep vein thrombosis, it is not recommended that you fly immediately as this activity could make the condition worse. You should always speak to your doctor about your specific circumstances when flying with a medical condition, but the general advice is that you should wait at least four weeks before getting on a plane after being diagnosed with a blood clot.

If you have a history of blood clots, have a condition or take medication that makes you more susceptible, or are just in a higher-risk category for developing blood clots, it’s important to take preventative action when on flights that last longer than four hours to reduce the risk of any problems.

Advice for Flying with Blood Clots

If you have a blood clot and have been given permission from a health professional to fly, you should follow the advice that they have given you to prevent any complications from occurring whilst in the air.

Other actions you can take to prevent blood clots whilst flying are:

  • Take any prescribed blood thinners or other medication to help manage our condition, and ensure that you have more of the medication in your hand luggage 
  • Perform anti-DVT exercises regularly during the flight to increase the circulation in your foot and leg muscles, or get up and move around the cabin when possible
  • Wear compression stockings for flying to decrease the chances of a blood clot forming
  • Try and book a ticket in an exit row seat or one that has more legroom, so that you can stretch your legs during the flight
  • Purchase travel insurance that covers medical conditions like a blood clot for added peace of mind and to cover you in the event of an emergency

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If you’re looking for comprehensive medical insurance for health conditions like a blood clot, Navigator Travel offers flexible coverage options that take into account your health, where you are travelling and the risk of further medical complications. You can find out more about our options here.