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Flying While Taking Coumadin

By Ashley Mackenzie ; Updated August 14, 2017

Sitting for long periods in an airplane can lead to blood clots in rare cases, as circulation is reduced; however, patients already taking an anticoagulant such as Coumadin might have less to fear than others, as blood thinners help prevent clots from forming, even if you sit on a plane for several hours. Checking your prescription with your doctor before you leave and taking precautions while you're in the air can keep your blood circulation and your body healthy during your trip.

Before You Depart

Depending on your current condition, flight duration and travel destination, your doctor might adjust your Coumadin dosage before you take off. Make an appointment with your doctor to have your blood tested and talk about your dosage. You should also ask about refilling your prescription at your destination, in case you'll be away when your current bottle is finished or you lose your medication during your travels. If you don't have compression stockings, your doctor might recommend them for during and after air travel.

Packing Your Medication

You probably already know that it's wise to take Coumadin at the same time every day to keep your blood consistency even, and missing doses can be dangerous. For these reasons, Cleveland Clinic recommends keeping your medication with you at all times during travel. Pack your Coumadin in your carry-on luggage rather than your checked bags, just in case your checked suitcases don't make it onto the flight with you. Take your prescription with you in case you need a refill during your trip, too.

Airport Tips

The Transportation Security Administration allows you to bring medical assistance devices onto the airplane, including International Normalized Ratio (INT) and ProTime (PT) meters, which allow you to self-test your clotting time. If you have one of these meters, keep it in your carry-on bag and show it to airport security for a visual inspection -- along with your medication -- rather than pushing it through the X-ray machine. Though you don't need to label your medication or devices, it can expedite the security check to do so.

In the Air

Though taking Coumadin makes the odds of developing a blood clot extremely low, it's still smart to take precautions on your flight. These include wearing your compression stockings if you have them, flexing your feet and calves while sitting and moving around the cabin every half hour, when it's safe to do so. This keeps your blood circulating to prevent blood clots. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and keep your blood flowing, too. The National Health Service's Whittington Health also recommends wearing your compression stockings for three days following your flight to improve circulation.

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