Sitting in a window seat during a long flight can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis, according to the American College of Chest Physicians.
The Telegraph recently reported on the recommendations of an American College of Chest Physicians panel, which found the greatest risk of deep vein thrombosis — blood clots that usually form in the legs – on flights lasting more than eight hours.
But even flights around four hours can be dangerous for passengers with a higher risk of serious blood clots, especially if they’re in window seats. According to the report, passengers with window seats tend to have less opportunity to move around, which is where the heightened risk comes from.
Muscular contractions ordinarily keep blood flowing in veins that run through the calves and thighs. But the blood can pool in those deep veins during long periods of immobility.
According to the report, those most at risk are recent surgery patients, cancer patients, people with limited mobility, the severely obese, and people over 70.
The College’s guidelines recommend that passengers on long flights get up and walk regularly, and stretch their calf muscles while standing up or sitting down. Those in higher risk categories, such as the elderly and pregnant women, should wear below-the-knee compression stockings.
Deep vein thrombosis can be deadly if the clots break off and travel to the heart, lungs or brain.
According to the Mayo Clinic, both pregnancy and use of birth control pills contribute to the risk of forming blood clots.
But numerous studies indicate that pills containing the artificial hormone drospirenone carry up to three times the risk of potentially fatal blood clots compared to other types of oral contraceptive. Pills with drospirenone include Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella.
Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Beyaz lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries.