CHENNAI: Deep Vein Thrombosis or Economy Class Syndrome is the occurrence noticed among people when their legs start swelling during long travel hours while flying on an aeroplane or travelling by car, train or bus. These long-distance trips can put anyone at risk of developing blood clots.
The risk increases if people have other risk factors for blood clotting, such as older age, obesity, travelling post-surgery or a family history of blood clots. Young mothers who delivered a baby recently or anyone who had restricted mobility are prone to more risk. This is due to the slow flow of blood in the veins while keeping the lower limb in a single position for long periods leading to the formation of blood clots. Experts say it is a preventable condition and needs proper awareness.
“Blood clots persisting for a very long time for patients with chronic medical ailments and conditions can lead to multiple critical complications like sudden heart attacks or organ failure etc. which may require surgical intervention. The DVT or Economy Class Syndrome as it is famously called, saw a huge surge during COVID as the overall physical activity among the majority of the individuals was very minimal,” said Dr Saravanan Balachandran, Vascular Surgeon in Prashanth Hospital.
Apart from leg swelling and pain, we do have symptoms like the heaviness of the legs, breathlessness, and palpitation (pulmonary thrombosis). During pregnancy, post-partum pregnancy, stroke or cancer the risk of DVT is high. Often breaking the sedentary phase by taking small walks or moving the limbs or some form of exercise can prevent DVT.
“Long flight journeys and sitting and working on desks can lead to fatigue and also accompanied risk of DVT. So break the monotony and indulge in small breaks and exercises every 30 minutes. If we take steps to prevent DVT it will be helpful in the long term to protect the heart and lungs, said Dr Saravanan.
Doctors say several lifestyle modifications can help with the condition such as maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and hydrated, and keeping blood pressure in check.
Consultant Vascular surgeon Dr Balakumar says avoiding smoking and physical activities will help. Pain can also be eased by wearing compression stockings and taking blood thinners once diagnosed with DVT, but consultation with a vascular expert is necessary.