Maybe airlines should offer discounts for window seats.
That's because the American College of Chest Physicians published new guidelines designating "sitting in a window seat" on long-distance flights as one of the risk factors for deep vein thrombosis.
"Long-distance travelers sitting in a window seat tend to have limited mobility, which increases their risk for DVT," the ACCP says.
Curiously, the ACCP lists "immobility" and "sitting in a window seat" as separate risk factors for DVT, a condition which can lead to a fatal blood clot in the lung.
The following are the risk factors associated with long-distance air travel, according to The Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th edition, American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines:
- recent surgery or trauma;
- estrogen use, including oral contraceptives;
- sitting in a window seat, and
In addition, even if you can't afford extra legroom in coach on your flight, the ACCP disparaged the notion that economy class travel is a risk factor for DVT, or that business class is healthier than economy class.
"Traveling in economy class does not increase your risk for developing a blood clot, even during long-distance travel; however remaining immobile for long periods of time will," says Mark Crowther, a medical doctor from the Department of Medicine, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
The ACCP guidelines also indicate there is no evidence to support the notion that alcohol consumption or dehydration increase travelers' risk of DVT.
On flights of six hours or longer, travelers who have an increased risk of DVT should move around frequently, stretch calf muscles, sit in an aisle seat, or use "below-knee graduated compression stockings," the ACCP advises.
Taking aspirins or anticoagulant therapy should be avoided as a means of combating DVT on long-distance flights, the organization says.
Getting symptoms of DVT is rare, the ACCP says, but the possibility is strongest on flights of 8 to 10 hours or longer, the ACCP says.
"For travelers who are considered to be at particularly high risk for DVT/pulmonary embolism, the use of antithrombotic agents should be considered on an individual basis because the adverse effects may outweigh the benefits," the ACCP says.
Most travelers who do get these symptoms have one or more risk factors, the ACCP says.
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