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Wear Compression Stockings On Long Flights To Help Prevent DVT (Deep Vein Thrombis, i.e. Blood Clots) and Swollen Legs

by Barbara 9. May 2011 06:05

Question about Anti Embolism Stocking Knee High M Long, 1PRand Compression Stockings, Stirrup, Lycra, X LG

Q: "My ankles and legs swell on long airplane flights such as LA to Tokyo. I am concerned about deep vein thrombosis, too. I understand these blood clots can occur weeks after you fly and sometimes people die from them. I am afraid this could happen to me. Would these be the best compresion stockings to purchase to avoid those problems? Thanks. Bill"

Answer: Thank you for your very timely question as we are entering the summer travel season. Your physician is your best source of information. See excerpts from  New York Times article from 2007 that confirms your fear is real.

From that article,

"Life-threatening blood clots and flying have been linked for more than 50 years, but a new study of business travelers confirms the risk, particularly for those who take long flights or fly frequently.Immobility is considered a major factor behind the condition, called deep vein thrombosis. But while it is often referred to as “economy-class syndrome” because of the cramped seating there, D.V.T. also occurs among those who fly in business class and first class, the researchers found.

People who fly four hours or more, the study found, have three times the risk of developing clots compared with periods when they did not travel."often referred to as “economy-class syndrome” because of the cramped seating there, D.V.T. also occurs among those who fly in business class and first class, the researchers found. People who fly four hours or more, the study found, have three times the risk of developing clots compared with periods when they did not travel.   D.V.T. occurs when a blood clot forms within the large deep veins of the body, usually in the leg. If untreated, part of the clot may break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal condition.


Frits R. Rosendaal and Suzanne C. Cannegieter of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, the study’s lead researchers, tracked almost 9,000 employees of large international companies and organizations over a four- or five-year period, in what they call the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. The results were published this fall in the online journal PLoS Medicine; preliminary findings were reported in late June by the World Health Organization.

“We now know out of 4,500 people who fly, one will get a D.V.T. within eight weeks after travel,” Dr. Cannegieter said. “It’s not really a huge amount,” but, she said, the risk increases with the duration of a flight and the number of flights in a short period. Obesity, a person’s stature, oral contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy and inherited blood clotting disorders also increase risk. A combination of these factors “may increase risk twenty- to fiftyfold,” Dr. Rosendaal said." End of excerpt from NY Times.

Safe Home recommends you consult your physician to learn whether thigh high or knee high compression stockings would be appropriate to reduce your leg swelling. The other options include walking around the plane several times frequently during the flight. Buying off the shelf anti embolism stockings is not the best choice because the compression may be too much for your needs or too little. Thigh high stockings are designed primarily for those who are bedridden or sitting for long periods of time. To get the proper fit, you need to have someone measure your leg length and your calf circumference.

Safe Home sells two brands of anti-embolism or compression stockings at this time. Medline and Graham Field offer knee length and/or thigh high. The knee length come in a stirrup style and in a full compression to the knee style.These come in flesh tones and in white.

Stirrup stockings by Graham Field are sized in Small 13” – 14”, Medium 15” - 16”, Large 17” - 18” and  Extra Large 19” - 20” according to calf circumference:

  • Form fitting compression stocking helps to control varicose veins and relieve tired aching legs
  • Ideal for people who spend a lot of time on their feet
  • One-way stretch Lycra material
  • Measure calf to determine stocking size
  • Made in USA

The Medline Anti-Embolism Stocking in knee length is an elastic stocking i white are made of 80% nylon/20% spandex. Sizing is as follows:

  • Small regular  Calf Circumference 10” - 13” (25.5 - 33cm) Leg Length 14” - 16” (36 - 40.5cm
  • Small long Calf Circumference 10” - 13” (25.5 - 33cm) Leg Length16” - 18” (40.5 - 46cm)
  • Medium regular Calf Circumference 12” - 15” (30.48 - 38.1cm) Leg Length15” - 17” (38 - 43cm)
  • Medium long Calf Circumference 12” - 15” (30.48 - 38.1cm)Leg Length 17” - 19” (43 - 48.5cm)
  • Large regular Calf Circumference 14” - 17” (35.5 - 43cm) Leg Length16” - 18” (41 - 45.5cm)
  • Large long Calf Circumference 14” - 17” (35.5 - 43cm) Leg Length18” - 20” (45.5 - 51cm)
  • X-large regular Calf Circumference 16” - 19” (40.5 - 48cm) Leg Length 16” - 18” (41 - 45.5cm)
  • X-large long Calf Circumference 16” - 19” (40.5 - 48cm) Leg Length  18” - 20” (45.5 - 51cm)

White is the only current choice for the thigh length Medline Anti-Embolism stockings. Designed by leading vascular specialists, Medline's EMS anti-embolism stockings provide a tailored, contoured fit with just the right amount of gradient pressure. Pressure is greatest at the ankle and gradually reduces throughout the length of the leg. Stockings are constructed of 85 percent nylon and 15 percent spandexare sized this way:

  • Small short Calf circum.     10” - 13” (25.5 - 33cm)    Leg length 26"- 29" (66 - 74cm)
  • Small regular Calf circum.  10” - 13” (25.5 - 33cm) Leg length 29" - 31" (79 - 86cm)
  • Small long Calf circum.      10” - 13” (25.5 - 33cm)     Leg length 31" - 34" (79 - 86cm)
  • Medium short Calf circum.  12” - 15” (30.48 - 38.1cm) Leg length 26"- 29" (66 - 74cm)
  • Medium regular Calf circum12” - 15” (30.48 - 38.1cm) Leg length 29" - 31" ( 74 - 79cm)
  • Medium long Calf circum.   12” - 15” (30.48 - 38.1cm) Leg length 31" - 34" ( 79 - 86cm)
  • Large short Calf circum.     14"- 17 " (35.5 - 43cm) Leg length 26"- 29" (66 - 74cm)
  • Large regular Calf circum.  14"- 17 " (35.5 - 43cm) Leg length 29" - 31" (79 - 86cm)
  • Large long Calf circum.      14"- 17 " (35.5 - 43cm) Leg length 31" - 34" (79 - 86cm)
  • X-large regular Calf circum.16" -19" ( 40.5 - 48cm) Leg length2 6" - 29" (66 - 74cm)
  • X-large long Calf circum.    16" -19" ( 40.5 - 48cm) Leg length 29" - 31" ( 74 - 79cm)

The White thigh length stockings are primarily for those who are bedridden or do little walking. and are 16 to 18 compression. We will be selling higher compression stockings in the future in the 20 to 30 compression range for those who walk more as these reduce blood pooling in the legs.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely,

Barbara