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Travel advice

Flight advice

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – can occur in healthy people if they are immobile for long periods of time, this includes car journeys and ‘e-thrombosis’ caused by sitting still for too long at a desk or computer. Everyone should either try to walk around every couple of hours or exercise the calf and foot muscles; if that is not possible, then simply fidgeting can be beneficial as it gets the circulation moving.

Travelling check list for patients on warfarin:

  • Research the hospitals/clinics in the areas you intend to travel to.
  • Make sure you have your up-to-date yellow anticoagulation book, prescription/letter for the heparin injections and insurance policy.
  • Carry information about Hughes/antiphospholipid syndrome with you, ideally in the language of the country you are visiting.
  • Buy a digital watch or set your mobile phone so you set an alarm to take your warfarin tablets at the correct intervals.
  • Be aware of any changes in diet and drinks while you are away, as these can also affect your INR.

Whether you self-manage or visit the anticoagulation clinic, if you experience any symptoms you must get your INR checked as soon as possible in case you need to increase your dosage of warfarin or inject with heparin.

If you are pregnant

If you have Hughes/antiphospholipid syndrome and are pregnant, flying is considered safe as it is highly likely that you will be taking 75mg aspirin daily as well as heparin injections. The same guidelines apply as to all passengers taking heparin, but you should be aware that most airlines will only be prepared to carry you up to your 27th week of the pregnancy.

If you are disabled

Travelling can be a daunting experience if you have reduced mobility or are disabled, so you must ensure that you inform your booking agent so they can make sure the appropriate assistance and support is available at the airport. If you book online, you should check that the flight provider can also offer you the services you require.

When you are on the plane

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.
  • Consider buying flight socks (compression stockings) as research has shown they can reduce the risk of DVT and leg swelling during flights of four hours and more. However, they must be the right size and worn correctly.
  • Store luggage overhead so you have room to stretch out your legs.
  • Do anti-DVT exercises. Raise your heels, keeping your toes on the floor, and then bring them down. Do this ten times. Now raise and lower your toes ten times. Do it at least every half an hour or more often if you like.
  • Walk around whenever you can, but at least every couple of hours.
  • Drink plenty of water – this helps accelerate the blood flow.
  • Do not drink too much alcohol as this can cause dehydration and immobility.
  • Do not take sleeping tablets as these will cause immobility.

Travel insurance

If you are travelling abroad it is wise to take out a travel insurance policy, but is essential you fully disclose your medical conditions to the insurance company, even if they do not ask. Failure to do so could lead to them rejecting a claim.

Travel insurance

This page provides a list of useful contacts of companies that offer travel insurance for APS patients

How to inject with heparin factsheet

Download and keep our factsheet on how to inject with heparin