Blood clot guidelines challenge economy class risk

Posted Feb. 07, 2012, at 12 a.m.

CHICAGO — Good news for budget-minded travelers: There’s no proof that flying economy-class increases your chances of dangerous blood clots, according to new guidelines from medical specialists.

Travelers’ blood clots have been nicknamed “economy class syndrome” but the new advice suggests this is a misnomer.

The real risk is not getting up and moving during long flights, whether flying coach or first-class. Sitting by the window seems to play a role, because it makes people less likely to leave their seats, the guidelines say.

Still, even on long flights, lasting at least four hours, the risk for most people is extremely low and not something to be alarmed about, said Dr. Gordon Guyatt, chairman of an American College of Chest Physicians’ committee that wrote the new guidelines.

The group, based in Northbrook, Ill., represents more than 18,000 physicians whose specialties include lung disease and critical care. The guidelines were released online Tuesday in the group’s journal, Chest. They’re based on a review of recent research and other medical evidence on deep vein thrombosis, blood clots that form deep in leg veins.

Flights lasting at least eight hours are riskiest, the guidelines say.

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