The Worst Seat on an Airplane Is...

...any window seat, be it in first class, business class or economy.

People who sit in window seats while flying on an airplane are more likely to sit longer and move less than people in other seats, putting them at a higher risk for developing potentially dangerous blood clots in the legs, warns the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).

It has long been thought that passengers on long-haul flights sitting in economy class were at a higher risk of developing deep venous thromboses (DVTs)--so much so that it got the nickname "economy class syndrome."

"DVT risk has nothing to do with economy class," Dr. Gordon H. Guyatt, chair of the ACCP panel that drafted the new guidelines, explained to HealthDay News. "Really, the evidence is that actually where you sit isn't really an issue. It's how much you move around. And if you're in a window seat you are probably more willing to sit for long periods of time being uncomfortable because you are reluctant to make anybody else move to let you out."

What are DVTs? They are blood clots that usually form in the legs and become especially dangerous if they travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. Once there, they can form potentially lethal pulmonary embolisms.

Which air passengers need to be most concerned about DVTs? If you are healthy, you do not need to worry about DVTs--even on a long flight. Your risk of developing them is less than one in 1,000.

Those who do need to take precautions are:

  • Elderly
  • Obese
  • Pregnant
  • Women who take supplementary estrogen, including oral contraceptives
  • Anyone who has recently had surgery and/or trauma
  • Anyone who has previously had a blood clot or an abnormality of their coagulation system
  • Anyone who has a disability that affects mobility
  • Anyone who has active cancer

What can you do to help prevent DVT while flying?

  • Sit in an aisle seat so it is easier for you to stand up and move around.

  • While seated, frequently stretch your calf muscles.

  • Get up and move around once every hour or two.

  • If you have a high risk of DVT, wear graduated compression stockings that stretch below the knee.

The recommendations have been are published in the journal CHEST.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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