BY now, we’ve all heard of the increased risk of suffering deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on long- haul flights. As most of you will have two long flights in a relatively short period, I thought some tips on how to reduce your risk would be in order.
Commonly refered to as “economy class syndrome” by the smug who always fly business class (read: bitter small business owner who always turns right on boarding the plane and desperately avoids eye-contact with those on the left), DVT is basically a clot that forms in the veins due to blood not being returned effectively to the heart.
When we remain still for long periods, the veins don’t have the muscles around them contracting to help blood travel back to the heart; the de-oxygenated blood can pool in areas of low muscle activity, which need to work against gravity (below the knee). This is why we always think our shoes have shrunk when we put them back on to land (well at least I used to think that – cabin pressure and time zone changes can do strange things to cognitive function).
Your chances of developing DVT from a long flight are thought to be only one in several million, but if you have been into Niseko Physio with a lower limb injury on your holiday, you are at an increased risk, oh all right – and if you are flying economy class. T
o help prevent DVT, have a single low-dose aspirin just before you board the plane, which helps to thin the blood. However, do not take it if you have stomach ulcers or suffer badly from indigestion. Wear loose clothing with compression socks and tights, which will help the blood return to the heart.
Most importantly, do not just sit still in your seat during the flight. Wriggling your toes in your seat is of some help but weight-bearing exercises are the gold-standard. Stand outside the toilets doing one- leg squats and heel-raises for as long as you can stand people staring at you.
There has been no recorded case of a passenger joining the mile high club and developing DVT on the same flight, so it’s clear activity helps! Do not cross your legs for long periods. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.