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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Pine Bark Extract May Prevent Leg Clots

Study Shows Pycnogenol May Reduce Swelling on Airplane Flights That Leads to DVTs

WebMD Health News

Aug. 12, 2005 -- A supplement derived from French maritime pine bark may help reduce the risk of developing leg clots during long air flights.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs as a result of the blood's circulation being restricted. Long periods of inactivity or immobility, dehydration, and low humidity and low cabin pressure that occur during air flights also cause DVTs. Because leg room and seating on airplanes is cramped DVT is frequently called economy-class syndrome.

Researchers show that the French maritime pine bark extract called Pycnogenol reduces leg swelling (edema) caused by lack of movement, which can increase the risk of DVTs during airplane flights lasting seven to 12 hours.

"Pycnogenol showed effectiveness in improving circulation and helping to prevent leg and ankle swelling," says researcher Peter Rohdewald, PhD, in a news release. "Most people will notice the effects of in-flight swelling if they take their shoes off during the flight and have difficulty getting back into them at the end of the flight. Leg and ankle swelling can lead to dangerous conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)."

Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract that originates from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France.

Risk of DVT

Small clots from a DVT can break off and travel to the lungs with the potential to cause life- threatening pulmonary embolisms -- lung clots that interfere with breathing.

Of the 2 million Americans who develop DVT each year, about 200,000 die, according to the American Heart Association.

Fortunately, a clot in most cases will dissolve on its own before it can affect blood flow and people are never aware they were even in danger.

Some people are at greater risk for developing DVT. Those with a history of heart disease or those who have developed blood clots in the past are especially vulnerable. That's not to say they're the only ones who can be affected. Younger people, and even athletes, are also at risk.

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