Have Stockings, Will Travel

Compression hose cuts in-flight blood clot risk 12-fold, study finds

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MONDAY, June 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Garments called "graduated compression stockings" greatly decrease the risk of dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for passengers on long-haul flights, a new study finds.

In fact, researchers found that individuals who do not wear these stockings when they fly are 12.5 times more likely to develop a potentially fatal DVT than people who do wear them.

The review, published in the current issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing, focused on the results of nine comparative trials involving about 2,500 airline passengers.

Only two of the 1,237 people who wore compression stockings developed DVT, compared with 46 of the 1,245 people who didn't wear the stockings, according to researchers at Fooyin University, Taiwan.

All the study participants were advised to walk or exercise regularly during their flights, drink water, avoid salty food, and to make sure that carry-on luggage didn't restrict their leg movement.

Although the compression stockings reduced the risk of DVT, they had little effect on the incidence of a less-serious condition called superficial venous thrombosis in low, medium or high-risk study participants.

"There have been a number of research studies into DVT, and how fliers can counteract the risks," Alison Tierney, the journal's editor-in-chief, said in a prepared statement.

"This research review provides a useful overview of some of the most recent comparative research on more than 2,500 fliers, which is why we were so keen to publish it. I personally believe that graduated compression stockings are essential for anyone traveling on long-haul flights," Tierney said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about DVT.

SOURCE: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., news release, June 13, 2005

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