Travelers should opt for the aisle seat when on a long distant flight. While researchers have dispelled the myth of the “Economy Class Syndrome,” that sitting in the coach section of the plane during a long-haul flight increases the risk of developing a blood clot, health experts discovered that sitting in a window seat is indeed a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis.
New evidence showed that regardless of whether the passenger is in economy or first class, window seats elevates the risk for DVT, according to the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).
DVT is a critical condition that can potentially lead to pulmonary embolism, fatal blockage in the lungs.
"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. Long-distance travelers sitting in a window seat tend to have limited mobility, which increases their risk for DVT. This risk increases as other factors are present," said guideline co-author Dr. Mark Crowther in a statement..
Guideline researchers also said that there was no “compelling” evidence to show that alcohol intake or dehydration increases the chances of developing DVT/PE during long-distance flights.
Health experts noted that the chances of developing deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism during long-haul flights are generally very small, but they have listed some factors that may increase the likelihood of developing DVT and PE as a result of long-distance travel below:
-Previous DVT/PE or known thrombophilic disorder
-Recent surgery or trauma
- Advanced age
-Estrogen use, including oral contraceptives
-Sitting in a window seat
Researchers made a few recommendations for travels on flight of 6 hours or more who have an increased risk for DVT/PR such as frequently getting up and walking around, exercising and stretching calf muscles, sitting in an aisle seat if possible, or wearing below-knee graduated compression stockings.
However an individual who is not at a higher risk of developing DVT/PE should refrain from wearing graduated compression stockings, and should also avoid taking aspirin or any type anticoagulant as a preventive measure against DVT/PE for long-haul flights, unless instructed by their health provider.
“Symptomatic DVT/PE is rare in passengers who have returned from long flights; however the association between air travel and DVT/PE is strongest for flights longer than 8 to 10 hours,” said Dr. Crowther. “Most passengers who do develop a DVT/PE after long-distance travel have one or more risk factors.”
The team of researchers based their guidelines off of 14 previous studies of DVT research reports, and the new recommendations are published by the ACCP in the February issue of CHEST.