According to the World Health Organizationsitting on a plane for more than four hours doubles your risk of developing a blood clot [source: Researchers estimate that up to 5 percent of all air travelers end up with blood clots [source: And airplanes present perfect conditions for DVT: The higher the altitudethe less oxygen there is in the air [source: Your blood tends to respond to a decrease in oxygen by increasing platelet count.
Platelets are the particles in your blood that allow it to clot if you cut yourself. Platelets make the blood more viscous, which increases the chances of forming a clot.
This reduction in oxygen at altitude, along with low moisture content in the air, also leads to dehydration. Dehydration increases the risk of developing a clot because too little water in the body makes the blood thicker, blood clot and airplane pressure. That, along with the general rush involved in plane travel, leads most people to forgo drinking as much water as they might at home.
Sitting in a car for eight hours -- or in a tank for several days -- is almost as bad as sitting for the same amount of time on an airplane, blood clot and airplane pressure. What we now call economy class syndrome was actually first observed by doctors during World War II in relation to an increase in blood clots following the raid on London, when many people spent hours on end crammed into air-raid shelters [source: Blood ends up collecting in the legs.
When blood sits too long in one place, blood clot and airplane pressure, platelets can stick together, forming a clot in a vein. If that clots breaks off and starts moving through your system, it can end up in the lungs and cut off oxygen to your heart.
The lack-of-movement problem is made blood clot and airplane pressure worse because airline seats are cramped.
People can end up with their legs bent for many hours at a time, which further reduces circulation. Everyone is susceptible to DVT on planes, blood clot and airplane pressure, although older people are more likely to develop it because of general circulation problems, as are people with heart blood clot and airplane pressure, circulation disorders and those who are on drugs that can increase clotting, like birth control pills.
But you can lower your risk by developing a few good travel habits:. To most of us, drinking water and getting travel clearance seem far less stressful than having to move around on an airplane. But moving around is the most important thing for preventing clots, so go ahead and wake the guy up. Sleeping on a plane can encourage clot formation, anyway. What are some vascular diseases? How can plane travel increase the risk of heart attack? Please Do Not Remain Seated. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water.
Avoid caffeinated beverages, because caffeine is a diuretic. Move around on the plane by walking the aisle when you can. Why is aspirin good for your heart? How can alcohol be good for your heart? Is the cure for heart disease one carrot away? How does your body make electricity -- and how does it use it?
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