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Economy class syndrome

Economy class syndrome is the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis in air travelers.[1] The term was first coined in the late 1980s[2] 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.

Additional recommended knowledge



The mechanism for thrombosis in travellers is probably due to a combination of immobilisation, dehydration and underlying factors. Patients with disease that predisposes them for thrombosis, such as antiphospholipid syndrome or cancer, are probably at a much greater risk. The highest risk groups include the elderly, pregnant women, those suffering serious medical conditions such as cancer and those with recent orthopedic surgery (legs or knees).[citation needed]


Prevention consists of adequate hydration[1](drinking, abstaining from alcoholic beverages and caffeine), moving around and calf muscle exercises[1]. In patients with a known predisposition for thrombosis, aspirin is often prescribed, as this acts as a mild anticoagulant. Severe risk for thrombosis can prompt a physician to prescribe injections with low molecular weight heparin (LMWH), a form of prophylaxis already in common use in hospital patients.

There is clinical evidence to suggest that wearing compression socks whilst traveling also reduces the incidence of thrombosis in people on long haul flights. A randomised study in 2001 compared two sets of long haul airline passengers, one set wore MediUK mediven travel compression hosiery the others did not. The passengers were all scanned and blood tested to check for the incidence of DVT. The results showed that asymptomatic DVT occurred in 10% of the passengers who did not wear compression socks. The group wearing compression had no DVTs. The authors concluded that wearing elastic compression hosiery reduces the incidence of DVT in long haul airline passengers.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Philbrick JT, Shumate R, Siadaty MS, Becker DM (2007). "Air travel and venous thromboembolism: a systematic review". Journal of general internal medicine : official journal of the Society for Research and Education in Primary Care Internal Medicine 22 (1): 107–14. doi:10.1007/s11606-006-0016-0. PMID 17351849.
  2. ^ Cruickshank JM, Gorlin R, Jennett B. Air travel and thrombotic episodes: the economy class syndrome. Lancet 1988;2(8609):497-8. PMID 2900413.
  3. ^ Scurr JH, Machin SJ, Bailey-King S, Mackie IJ, McDonald S, Smith PD (2001). "Frequency and prevention of symptomless deep-vein thrombosis in long-haul flights: a randomised trial". Lancet 357 (9267): 1485–9. PMID 11377600.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Economy_class_syndrome". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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