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John Scurr, consultant vascular surgeon
"It almost certainly reduces the risk of DVT"
 real 56k

Emirates medical services head Dr Alistair Beatton
"It is as good as walking"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Plane 'gym' could fight thrombosis
The device can be used while sitting in an aircraft seat
A device which allows airline passengers to exercise their calf muscles in flight could reduce the risk of dangerous blood clots.

It was invented by a retired British Airways pilot, who was at the controls when a passenger was taken ill with deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

It is thought long-haul passengers who sit in one position for hours at a time may increase their chances of developing DVT, in which a clot forms in one of the blood vessels in the lower leg.

By using the Airogym, you can promote the flow of blood through the legs to a state that is even more rapid than normal

John Scurr, vascular surgeon
This can be a painful condition, and can be dangerous, should a part of a clot break off and block blood vessels in the lung or brain.

Health advice to travellers is to minimise the risk by getting up and walking about now and again to improve the blood flow, but airlines are concerned about the safety implications of too many passengers leaving their seats too often.

The new device, called the "airogym", is to be offered by the Dubai-based airline Emirates to its customers from Wednesday.

Air compartments

It comprises two air-filled compartments linked by a tube and valve.

When placed with one compartment under each foot, the passenger can pump air from one into the other, and vice versa.

This works the calf muscles, improving circulation.

A study, using an ultrasound probe, by vascular surgeon John Scurr, found that blood flow was improved, in some cases as much as five-fold.

He said: "By using the Airogym, you can promote the flow of blood through the legs to a state that is even more rapid than normal.

"What we believe is that by doing that, you will reduce the risk of the blood setting."

Doctors say the device is more effective than simply wiggling the feet while seated because more pressure has to be applied to work it.

Despite the condition being dubbed "economy class syndrome", because of the often cramped conditions, DVT can happen in any case where the patient sits still for more than four hours.

People have been taken ill on long car journeys, and even at work after sitting at a desk.

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23 Oct 00 | C-D
Deep vein thrombosis
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