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Avoiding Blood Clots On An Airplane: July 02, 2011

It’s hard to keep Pamel Cupp grounded. An accomplished artist, she likes to travel, even though she has to take extra precautions when she flies.

“I’m on blood thinners because of blood clots, and we wanna avoid those, so when I fly I make sure that I have a lay over to get off of the plane after two or three hours.”

Sitting for long periods of time in cramped quarters does pose concerns for people predisposed to blood clots. Wellness Center fitness trainer Heather Sines gives her clients an airplane exercise routine.

“They let me know if they’re having a long flight especially if they’re prone to more blood clots.”

Studies found the risk of developing a blood clot is 1 in 6 thousand in flights longer than four hours. These clots come from deep in the leg and are called deep vein thrombosis. Passengers can lessen their likelihood by moving their legs.

“So you do want to move your legs and pump your ankles up and down so you get that blood flow back up,” says Sines.

And get up and walk at least once during the flight.

“Just get up and stretch your legs and move your body because, unless you’re sleeping you should be moving,” says Sines.

At risk passengers should also avoid taking sleep medications in flight. It makes them more likely to be immobile. These travel tips are part of Pamela’s flight plan.

“And I always sit on the aisle, so that I can get up and just stand up or walk, do anything I cannot continually sit.”

Symptoms of blood clots include cramps in the calves or swelling in the legs.

Bottom line: if the flight is long, stretch your legs.