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Flying and Thrombosis

25905009 s tibanna79The so called "economy class syndrome" (or pulmonary embolism) has been in the news in the past.  The risk of developing either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism during a long haul flight has not changed suddenly.

There has always been some risk present.  The various factors which make up this risk are listed below:

Risk Factors:

Cabin-related factors

Patient-related factors

  • Immobility
  • Cramped seating
  • Low atmospheric pressure
  • Relatively reduced oxygen concentration at altitude
  • Dehydration
  • Low humidity
  • Overweight
  • Previous history of thromboembolism or deep vein thrombosis
  • Heart disease
  • On hormone therapy
  • Presence of cancer
  • Recent surgery or injury
  • Smoking

You can reduce your risk of developing thrombosis during or just after a long haul flight by taking some practical steps:

  • Take 75mg of aspirin an hour or so before the flight if there are no contraindications
  • Wear compression stockings if you have any risk factors or a tendency to swelling of the legs
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol
  • Walk up and down the aisle as often as possible
  • Wiggle your toes and feet frequently while sitting

 Photo © tibanna79