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Br J Haematol. 2011 Dec;155(5):613-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.08899.x. Epub 2011 Oct 8.

Cumulative flying time and risk of venous thromboembolism.

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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.


The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) associated with cumulative flying time remains uncertain. In a case-control study in general practices throughout the UK, participants comprised 550 VTE cases identified from practice records and 1971 age- and gender-matched controls. Participants returned identical questionnaires asking for information including air travel details. Compared to not flying, cumulative flying time >12 h within the previous 4 weeks was associated with a threefold increase in the risk of VTE [odds ratio (OR) 2·75, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1·44-5·28]. Those who had flown >4 h in a single leg in the previous 4 weeks had twice the risk of VTE (OR 2·20, 95% CI, 1·29-3·73). These risks were no longer evident by 12 weeks and were similar to those of day-case or minor surgery (OR 5·35, 95% CI, 2·15-13·33). Equivalent risks for moderate and high-risk surgery were over 30-fold (OR 36·57, 95% CI, 13·05-102·52) and 140-fold (OR 141·71, 95% CI, 19·38-1036·01) respectively. The temporary nature of the association of cumulative and long-haul air travel with VTE suggests a causal relationship. The risks of VTE in those with a higher baseline risk due to surgery, previous VTE or obesity are further increased by air travel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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