Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) annually affects approximately 142 to 300 individuals per 100,000 people. The risk of VTE notably increases following prolonged air travel, during hospital stays, and post-surgery.

What is Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)?

VTE is a serious condition where a blood clot often forms in the deep veins of the leg, groyne, or arm (referred to as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT) and can travel to the lungs (resulting in a Pulmonary Embolism, or PE).

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): This occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more deep veins, often in the legs. It's a concerning condition as the clot can dislodge and move through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a blockage (Pulmonary Embolism).
  • Pulmonary Embolism (PE): This is a blockage in one of the lungs' pulmonary arteries, most commonly due to a blood clot from the deep veins in the legs.

Causes of DVT and PE

  • Reduced blood flow, typically from limited movement.
  • Blood pooling in a vein.
  • Damage to a blood vessel.
  • Clotting issues, which may arise from medications, aging, or diseases.
  • Vein catheterization.

Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

  • Pain in the leg or calf.
  • Swelling in the arm, leg, or ankle.
  • Hardened, painful vein.
  • Skin color change to a dull green.
  • Red or discolored skin on the leg.
  • Warmth in the affected leg.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Coughing.
  • Feeling lightheaded.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Ultrasound Venous Doppler.
  • CT scans of the lungs.

Treatment Options for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

  • Anticoagulant medications to prevent or dissolve clots.
  • Surgical removal of clots.

Potential Complications

  • Respiratory failure.
  • Hypoxia (low oxygen levels).
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).

Preventative Measures

  • Avoid prolonged sitting; move around regularly.
  • Minimise risk factors like smoking, dehydration, and physical trauma.
  • Use compression stockings to improve blood flow.
  • Take the prescribed anticoagulants if recommended.

Advice for Long-Haul Flight Passengers

  • Stay hydrated with water and avoid alcohol.
  • Move around the cabin hourly.
  • Regularly flex your ankles every 15-30 minutes.
  • Consider wearing support stockings as advised by your doctor.