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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 07:22 GMT
Report backs blood clot flight link
airport departures
New research claims blood clots are a travel risk
Economy class syndrome, where long haul flight passengers can suffer potentially fatal blood clots, does exist and should be recognised by airlines, according to researchers.

New evidence published in the medical journal The Lancet found that the pressurised atmosphere of aeroplanes may increase the risk of venous thrombosis.

The research letter will add to the controversy over the issue, coming two weeks after another article in The Lancet said the condition was a myth.

Emma Christoffersen
Emma Christoffersen died after a 20-hour flight
British Airways announced last month that it is to participate in a research project aimed at establishing whether there is a definitive link between flying and blood clots.

The announcement came after 28-year-old Emma Christoffersen, from Newport, collapsed at Heathrow airport and died after getting off a 20-hour flight from Australia.

Some experts claim that the long hours spent sitting in cramped conditions on planes, often dehydrated, can lead to venous thrombosis.

In the latest study Norwegian researchers put 20 healthy men into a specially-constructed apartment in which the air pressure was as low as in an aeroplane.

They were exposed to a rapid decrease in air pressure, similar to that experienced during a flight.

Potentially fatal

The men were kept in the hypobaric (low pressure) apartment for eight hours, and were allowed to do all every day activities except for physical exercise.

The researchers found that levels of compounds associated with blood clotting increased between two and eight-fold in the men during the eight hours.

Venous thrombosis and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are potentially fatal because blood clots can travel into the lungs and cause death.

Researcher Bjorn Bendz called on airlines to ensure passengers are given regular supplies of non-alcoholic drinks and people at high risk of thrombosis are given advice about the condition.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Health
Aspirin cuts blood clot danger
23 Oct 00 | C-D
Deep vein thrombosis
23 Oct 00 | UK
The seats of discontent
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