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To Avoid Blood Clots in the Legs, Choose an Aisle Seat


New guidelines from a leading physicians’ group suggest avoiding dangerous blood clots in the legs during plane flights might have something to do with what type of seat you have.

Deep venous thromboses (DVT) was once nicknamed “economy class syndrome” from widely-publicized incidents involving passengers on long-haul flights, but it turns out that sitting in first-class isn’t any better for you.

The American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) suggests you should avoid window seats whenever possible.

Dr. Gordon H. Guyatt, chair of the ACCP panel that drafted the new guidelines, told, “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.”

The current guidelines, published in the February issue of CHEST and endorsed by a wide range of American medical associations, are the ninth in a series of ACCP updates on the issue. They were drafted after the panel extensively reviewed findings from relevant studies published since the last update in 2008.

Apart from seating considerations, the guidelines also suggest that people on flights lasting six or more hours move about frequently and stretch their calf muscles, and that higher-risk individuals (for example, those who’ve had clots before, an abnormality of their coagulation system, or a disability that affects mobility) should also wear graduated compression stockings that stretch below the knee.

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