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Flight Socks May Fight Blood Clots in Legs

Elastic Socks May Reduce the Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis

WebMD Health News

Nov. 9, 2004 -- Wearing special socks on long flights may help reduce the risk of potentially dangerous blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis, according to a new study.

Deep vein thrombosis is the medical term for clots that form in the deep veins of the legs or pelvis. Blood clots in these deep veins can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs and cause a potentially deadly condition known as a pulmonary embolism.

The risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis rises after long periods of inactivity, such as sitting in a car or airplane, especially in people with a history of cardiovascular disease.

In this study, researchers found wearing elastic socks during long flights reduced the risk of blood clots in people at risk, such as people with clotting disorders or recent surgery.

The results of the study were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2004 in New Orleans.

Flight Socks Reduce Clotting Risks

Researchers evaluated the effects of wearing the elastic socks, Scholl Flight Socks, in 1,000 people considered to be at risk for deep vein thrombosis.

Half of the participants wore the socks during long-haul flights of eight to 13 hours, and the other half didn't. All of the participants also participated in an exercise program associated with the flight socks.

Below-the-knee ultrasound scans were taken before and after the flights to detect blood clots.

The results showed that below-the-knee deep vein thromboses were found in 4.6% of the people who didn't wear the flight socks compared with 1.1% of those who wore the socks.

Researchers say the clots did not produce any noticeable symptoms in 91% of those that had them.

They say the results suggest that flight socks are easy to use and in association with an exercise program should be "very effective" in reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

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