Preventing Traveller's Thrombosis (Economy Class Syndrome)

Fluid intake (or Hydration) to Help Prevent Pulmonary embolism (Economy Class Syndrome)

What causes pulmonary embolism (economy class syndrome)?

Causes of pulmonary embolism

Causes of pulmonary embolism

Traveller's thrombosis (economy class syndrome) is caused by pulmonary embolism, a blockage of the lung's main artery or one of its branches by a substance that has traveled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream. The increase of blood viscosity is one of the risk factors in traveller's thrombosis. Fluid deficiency, led by evaporation from the body due to low humidity and air pressure during flights, causes the increase in blood viscosity. Moreover, dehydration induced by inadequate fluid intake or diuresis by alcohol intake also contributes to blood viscosity increase.

When the lower legs continue to be put under pressure from prolonged sitting under such conditions, blood congests, and a blood clot is formed. This is called pulmonary embolism. Low air pressure makes blood congestion more likely. If a blood clot becomes detached when you stand up, it travels through the blood stream, and can get stuck in a narrow blood vessel in a lung, which can cause difficulties in breathing and palpitations. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

How to prevent pulmonary embolism (economy class syndrome)

These people should take care!

People who tend to develop pulmonary embolism (economy class syndrome) are those who already have a tendency to develop blood clots. People with metabolic syndrome and other lifestyle related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and varicose veins of the lower legs need to take care. Women aged 40 and older, people who are short, and smokers also need to take care.

These people should take care!

  • Are obese
  • Have diabetes
  • Have varicose veins of the lower legs
  • Are a woman aged 40 or older
  • Are short in height
  • Smoke

Effective precautions

Massage your lower legs
Adequate exercise and massaging are effective ways of maintaining normal blood flow. Especially, lower leg exercises and massaging help prevent blood clots.
Be sure to get plenty of fluids
Adequate fluid intake is important to prevent dehydration, which causes increased blood viscosity. However, alcoholic drinks or other beverages that have diuretic effects may contribute to body fluid loss.
Memo: aisle seats are recommended on overseas flights

Walking to the lavatory and adequate fluid intake are essential to maintain normal blood flow in the lower legs during prolonged sitting, thus if possible choose an aisle seat so that you can easily get up and walk to the lavatory at any time without disturbing other passengers.

Get the facts! Which is more effective, an electrolyte beverage or water?

Otsuka Pharmaceutical conducted a study in which it chartered an airplane and flew 40 volunteer staff members from Japan to the USA in order to research the relationship between pulmonary embolism and rehydration. In the study, subjects were divided into two groups of 20 each: a beverage containing electrolytes and carbohydrates group and a mineral water group. During the nine hour flight, both groups drank the same amount at the same times.

Get the facts! Which is more effective, water or an electrolyte beverage?