You have a greater chance of suffering a DVT than winning the Lotto, where the odds of winning a jackpot are 1 in 45 million.  However, your chance of suffering a thrombosis is 1 in 1,000.

Taking a holiday should be a relaxing experience, but your chances of getting a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) whilst travelling are greater than a jackpot win on the National Lottery’s Lotto game.

It is estimated that in the UK, one in every 1,000 people each year are at risk of having a DVT – a blood clot in the deep veins, usually in the leg, and there are many factors which could lead to a clot forming, including long-distance travel. 

In November 2015, one man found out the true value of comprehensive travel insurance when he travelled to Gambia, only to find out he had suffered from a DVT. 

Robin Moorcroft, who is only 50 years old, won a dream holiday to Gambia and travelled in November 2015, but a few days into his trip, contacted his insurance provider, Ageas Insurance Limited, to say he believed he had a DVT.  He said: “I travelled on holiday last November to Gambia.  A couple of years ago, I’d had a blood clot, which I’d declared to my insurer, Ageas, who agreed to provide cover.  I thought I had a DVT and on 23 November, I contacted the assistance company, who started the process of me being seen by a doctor. 

“Initially, the doctor didn’t think it was DVT, but Ageas’s assistance team wasn’t 100% happy with this diagnosis and the following morning I attended a medical research centre for a Doppler test. This showed I had a 1.23cm clot in a vein in my right leg. I then started a course of treatment followed by a return flight that would safely get me and my wife back to the UK.  

“I would definitely recommend that everyone travelling obtains a comprehensive insurance policy to cover these eventualities – otherwise you could be stuck in a foreign country suffering from a condition which is hard to diagnose. Without Ageas’s expertise and insistence I might not be here today.”

Ageas Insurance Limited, Mr Moorcroft’s insurance underwriter, would like to raise awareness during National Thrombosis Week. 

Dr Sarah Jarvis, General Practitioner, said: “Mr Moorcroft’s story is not an unfamiliar one.  Thrombosis is potentially life-threatening if not caught and treated in time, and one of the risk factors is travelling on a long flight.  DVT can be difficult to diagnose and about 80% are silent – they have no symptoms and people therefore can’t be sure they have one. The problem is, even if you don’t have symptoms they increase the risk of a life-threatening clot on the lung, called a Pulmonary Embolus.

“There are certain risk factors which can contribute to thrombosis, including ageing, having had recent surgery, being immobilised, if you’ve suffered from a heart attack or a stroke, cancer and its treatment, long-distance travel and even pregnancy.

“In DVT, the most common symptoms include pain, tenderness and swelling of the leg, usually in the calf.  Sometimes this is accompanied by discolouration where the leg may be pale, blue or a reddish purple colour, although this is a less common symptom.

I always advise my patients to make sure they take out comprehensive travel insurance, regardless of how healthy they think they are. Even if they are travelling in Europe, an EHIC card may not cover all eventualities.”

Paul Martin, Head of Travel Insurance for Ageas Insurance Limited explained: “It is important that people understand the risks any form of travel could have.  DVT is not easy to diagnose and if you travel without cover and need medical assistance abroad which results in a need to come home early, you could face some hefty bills – including medical treatment and return flights. 

“By speaking with your insurance provider, they will ensure you have the right levels of cover for your individual circumstances.  Insurance policies aren’t one-size-fits all and by fully declaring all relevant information, you will ensure you have the most suitable levels of cover in place.

“We’re really pleased to help raise awareness of DVT during National Thrombosis week and hope people will be more conscious of what they should look out for, especially when travelling abroad.”

Dr Sarah Jarvis concluded: “National Thrombosis week is a great way to raise awareness of this condition and there are things people can do to help prevent a DVT, such as staying active, keeping hydrated and a healthy diet.  The NHS has a number of information sources available online with advice on how to prevent a DVT and the symptoms to look out for.”