Flight blood clots – Economy Class Syndrome

At least one person a month dies of a blood clot on the lungs on arrival at Heathrow Airport, say doctors.

They believe at least 2,000 people a year in the UK may die from blood clots linked to long-haul air travel.

Economy class syndrome is the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis in air travelers. The term was first coined in the late 1980s when it turned out that people who had traveled long distances by aeroplane were at an increased risk for thrombosis, especially deep venous thrombosis and its main complication, pulmonary embolism. Although all these diseases had been recognised for a long time, the possibility of litigation against airline companies brought them into the limelight when this “syndrome” was reported.


The usual advice for avoiding economy class syndrome is to flex the legs frequently and drink plenty of water – abstaining from alcoholic beverages and caffeine. In patients with a known predisposition for thrombosis, aspirin is often prescribed. There is clinical evidence to suggest that wearing compression socks whilst traveling also reduces the incidence of thrombosis in people on long haul flights

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