Preventing Traveller's Thrombosis (Economy Class Syndrome)

Editorial Supervision: Taketoshi Morimoto, Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine

Traveller's thrombosis (economy class syndrome) is a condition that occurs when you have to sit in the same position for a long time, such as when on an airplane.

Traveller's Thrombosis can occur if you stay in the same position for a long time without much movement. In this situation, pressure builds in the lower legs and blood flow is reduced, resulting in a risk of blood clots forming, which could then block thin veins.

  • *The official name of traveller thrombosis is "venous thromboembolism"; it is also known as "deep vein thrombosis."
Warning signs of economy class syndrome

Dyspnea 73%, chest pain 53%, anxiety 31%, cold sweat 31%, syncope 27%.
(2000 Japanese Society of Pulmonary Embolism Research (JaSPER))

Causes of economy class syndrome

Lack of adequate fluids, and dehydration caused by drinking alcohol which induces diuresis (an increase in urination), contribute to an increase in blood viscosity.

Prevention of economy class syndrome
  • Light exercise such as walking
  • Leg massage
  • Adequate fluid intake of an electrolyte beverage

Learn more about traveller's thrombosis (economy class syndrome)

Featured topic
Economy class syndrome doesn't only happen on airplanes

You may think that traveller's thrombosis usually occurs only on planes, since it is also known as economy class syndrome. However, it can also occur during long-distance travel by train or other vehicles, when doing desk work, during long meetings, or at the movies when sitting without moving for a prolonged period. Air conditioned office environments in particular are similar to the environment in a plane. It is important to know what traveller's thrombosis is, understand its causes, and take precautionary measures to avoid any problems.