Sitting on window seat on long flights raises blood clot risk

Frequent flyers, please note -- sitting on a seat next to the window during a long flight can take a toll on your health, say doctors.

According to the American College of Chest Physicians, sitting on the window seat on board a flight, which is longer than four hours, can raise a air traveller's risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) -- blood clots that usually form in the legs.

And, people who should be most concerned are those who have recently had surgery, cancer patients, those with limited mobility, the severely obese, and travellers over 70.
Healthy women on the pill and those who are pregnant should also be careful, according to the American physicians.

The doctor's panel, which reviewed existing evidence, found the risk of developing deep vein thromboses was "strongest for flights over eight to 10 hours", 'The Daily Telegraph' online reported.

"For those on flights over four hours, immobility during the flight and window seating (especially for obese persons) also increase the risk," say the doctors, adding a big clot can cause collapse as the body is starved of oxygenated blood.

According to new guidelines, published in the 'Chest' journal, all long-haul air passengers should get up and walk regularly around the aircraft, and stretch their calf muscles while standing up or sitting down.

Only those in higher risk categories -- such as elderly and pregnant women -- should wear below-the-knee compression stockings ('flight socks'), said the doctors, who also advised against use of aspirin as a preventative measure.

Dr Gordon Guyatt, chair of the panel, said: "There has been a significant push in health care to administer DVT prevention for every patient, regardless of risk. They found no evidence that people in economy class were more prone to DVT than those in first or economy."

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