- Economy class passengers who suffer cramped conditions
on long haul flights are at risk of developing blood clots in their legs,
experts have decided.
- The existence of "economy class syndrome" has
been disputed, but research published in The Lancet today says an increased
risk of venous thrombosis is real. Doctors put 20 healthy men in a low
pressure chamber which created the air pressure of 7,000ft above sea level,
the pressure in aircraft cabins. They were told to avoid exercise and blood
samples were taken after eight hours.
- Dr Bjorn Bendz and colleagues from the Haematological
Research Laboratory, Ulleval, Oslo, found that concentrations of compounds
associated with clotting had increased to between two-and-a-half and eight
times the initial levels.
- Dr Bendz says: "Despite the lack of an adequate
control group our study suggests that rapid exposure to air pressure in
aeroplane cabins activates coagulation. This activation is probably highly
relevant and may contribute to the increased risk of venous thrombosis.
Although rare in flights, venous thrombosis is serious and potentially
- He urges airlines to advise passengers to perform leg
exercises regularly and to take non-alcoholic drinks. Last month, British
Airways announced that it was taking part in similar research following
the death of Emma Christoffersen, 28, of Newport, Gwent, after a 20-hour
flight from Australia.
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