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Deep vein thrombosis and air travel

Air travel is not associated with increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, say the authors of a study published shortly after a young British woman died from DVT following a long-haul flight.

October 31, 2000

The findings of a recent study suggest that air travel does not increase the risk of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), challenging the widely held view that DVT is one of the most common conditions associated with air travel. In the study, published as a short Research Letter in the 28 October Lancet, Kraaijenhagen and colleagues looked at the role of air travel in 186 patients with proven DVT of the leg (cases) and 602 patients who had suspected DVT but in whom this diagnosis was ruled out by ultrasonography or venography and an uneventful 3-month follow-up (controls).

Similar proportions of patients with DVT (2.15%) and without DVT (2.16%) reported a history of air travel during the preceding 4 weeks. Air travel alone was not associated with an increased risk of DVT (odds ratio, 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.3—1.4); furthermore, travel using any form of transportation (plane, car, bus, train, and boat combined) was not associated with an increased risk of DVT (odds ratio, 0.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.3–1.4). The data also refuted any association between prolonged travel (more than 5 hours) and DVT (odds ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.1–1.3). The findings were similar when patients younger than 65 years were analyzed separately (odds ratio, 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.4–2.2). The authors conclude that air travel, even prolonged air travel, is not associated with an increased risk of DVT.

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