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|Updated February 20, 2005|
12/14/02 Pat Rasmussen: On November 9, returning from Dallas, as I got off my Northwest Airlines flight in Minneapolis, I felt breathless and unable to walk to the next gate and had to get a cart to take me. At the gate I was in great discomfort and I asked the gate agent several times if there was a place to lie down. She said no. On arrival in Seattle, I felt so weak and breathless I had to go in a wheelchair from the gate to baggage claim. The gate agent offered no assistance other than calling for a wheelchair.
I was going to stay with a friend in Seattle overnight before driving home to Leavenworth, but I was so weak I had to stay in bed at their house. After five days I drove home, calling my daughter every thirty minutes so she would know I was still under way.
At home I went to bed thinking it was a virus. I'm a very healthy 56, vegetarian, and do a lot of hiking and walking. But I wasn't getting better and a friend convinced me to see a doctor.
The doctor said I had viral bronchitis, prescribed an inhaler, and told me to come back for an x-ray if there was no improvement. I went back in three days and the x-ray said I had either pneumonia or PE. They took a sample to test and sent it to Seattle. When it came back positive for PE five days later, they started treatment for PE. This was twenty-five days after the injury!
I was bed-ridden for 35 days, unable to work or even communicate. I am shocked that the airlines know about this risk but aren't telling passengers. When I called Northwest for the address of their Customer Relations department, they said there is no need to tell passengers about blood clots because : "It is common knowledge. Everyone knows about it." I responded that I was a travel agent for 15 years and a frequent flier, and I didn't know about it. She again said, "It is common knowledge, everyone knows about it" and hung up on me. I hope to join a lawsuit. The only way to get them to change is to hurt their pocketbook.
12/13 BYR: Nearing the end of a three week vacation in Europe I noticed I was short of breath during my walks. On Thursday, October 3, I woke up with muscle pain in my right shoulder. Returning to Paris from the South of France, I had no appetite for dinner and wanted to go to bed early since I was going to fly back to Asia the following day. But it was impossible to lay down, with a growing pain on my right trunk. As the first emergency team was trying to examine me I was unable even to lay down until they gave me a strong painkilling injection. At the hospital CT-Scan revealed PE in the bottom right lung, even though ultrasound had not found DVT in the legs.
Six months of warfarin has been prescribed with weekly blood test to insure that I am not over or under dosed. I will need to take preventive subcutaneous injection of anticoagulant before every long haul flight, as well as wearing compression stockings and flexing the legs frequently. To my colleagues frequent flyers, please watch out, airlines won't inform you.
12/6 Chris: I'm a flight attendant flying mostly flying red-eye flights from Pittsburgh to the west coast and back. After cabin service on red-eyes, flight attendants sit for most of the flight.
This past Oct.14, I flew to LAX and was short of breath and broke out in a cold sweat during cabin service. That night in my hotel room I started getting extreme pain between the shoulder blades and couldn't get comfortable in any position. Then the pain moved to my upper chest and I started to think I might be having a heart attack. When I got up from bed, I felt like I was hit with a sledge hammer from the front and back at the same time and sick to my stomach . I called the paramedics and spent a week in the hospital in LA.The doctors said I had many clots in my left leg and a few broke loose and were in my lungs.
Now I'm on unpaid medical leave, waiting for long term disability to kick in after 90 days. In my doctors' opinion, I should look for another way to make a living.
I'm being treated with warfarin daily. My leg still swells almost every day, and I have to elevate it at night to relieve the pain. Minor headaches are nearly every day. My energy is back to about 80% . I work out every other day and I'm back to my pre-embolism weights....except for my leg routine.
11/27 SC My husband suffered a DVT in May of 2002. He flew from Los Angeles to Paris, via New Jersey. During the second leg of the flight he noticed a minor cramp in his leg. He went to the back of the plane to stretch during the movie and was immediately told to sit back down. He kept telling them his leg was cramping and he was still notified to be seated. He has flown all around the world and he always made a point to to stretch and move around.
My husband is only 42, very healthy and athletic; he bikes 80-100 mile trips on weekends. In Paris, the pain intensified. A friend took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a DVT. He spent several nights in the hospital and was treated for several months.
10/28 Dennis Carter: I am 52, have been healthy for as long as I can remember. On September 25 I flew to from Bristol to Korea, returning the 29th. Then to Lisbon October 8, returning the 10th. On the return from Lisbon, in economy with a spare seat by my side, I lifted the arm rest, stretched out and went to sleep. A dull pain in my calf woke me. The obvious thing to do was massage it but the pain got worse and the calf was swollen and hot. On arrival at Bristol I hobbled to collect my baggage. The pain got worse and I decided to go straight to the Accident and Emergency dept. Within 3 hrs I had a scan and confirmed I had a DVT.
I had Enoxaparin injections but the following three days were absolute agony. The pain was like a permanent cramp in my calf muscle with stabbing pains. It took a lot of effort and grit to get to the hospital for the injections and blood tests, my wife pushing me in a wheelchair. The airline mentioned exercise and walking around on the Korea flight but then they dim the lights, give you a blanket, and everyone goes to sleep.
10/25 Erin: I recently flew economy class from Chicago to Nairobi, over 25 hours, en route to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru. In the middle of the night (1 day after the flight), I woke up with an unbelievable pain in my calf. I instantly suspected it was a blood clot, and took 4 ibuprofen (no aspirin on hand). The next morning, I (LUCKILY) found a small clinic with an ultrasound machine, where a doctor confirmed that I had a blood clot. I am a marathon runner, 27, a triathlete, a mountain climber, a frequent traveler, a vegetarian, and a non-smoker. I did not think I was at risk. Now I am thankful to be alive! I wish the airline industry would publicize this information!!!!!!!! I drank tons of water on the flight, but only wish that I had stretched on that flight as much as I usually do.
10/24 Laurie: I flew to Turkey from New York for a great two week vacation. I was 44 , a competitive walker/runner.
On the 14th day in Turkey I noticed a warm, red, itchy spot, about one by two inches, on my right forearm. The next day it was a little painful and I applied a hot pack.
On the sixteenth day, back home, my hand was also painful and and the red area was spreading up my arm. My doctor said to keep using the hot pad and again the next day, more hot pad. The next night it just hurt too much and looked alarming so I went to the ER but left after waiting after waiting several hours. On the 18th day my doctor sent me for an ultrasound, which identified DVT.
For a week in Lawrence & Memorial in New London, CT every doc in the hospital came to see my arm.
I went on Coumadin for 6 months, with many blood tests, each of which was a potential threat to my veins. I've been told not to give blood again and the phrase "just a blood test" makes me shiver, and I've had plenty.
10/23 Dr, John Marx: I have been practicing sports medicine for almost 20 years. Over that period I have treated many fit young athletes returning to Australia from competition overseas who complained of pulled calf muscles. It always surprised me when their venogram, and now of course their ultrasound scan, came up positive for a DVT. That is why your news on fitness being the number one risk factor in ECS really captured my interest. This new information confirmed what I had been observing for years in sports medicine.
10/14 Dan Furlin: I've been a runner for 20 years doing about 30 miles/week and have done many races and 3 marathons winning lots of age group awards. January of this year, moving from New York to Florida, I drove 21 hours straight. I was OK for a week, jogging every day. Then one day I went out and experienced shortness of breath. The next day the same thing. The third day I made it about 100 yards and almost passed out. Drove immediately to the ER and they thought it was heart related and put me in intensive care with intravenous nitro, etc. I explained to them that I've been a runner for 20 years and doubted it was the heart. After a lung scan and other tests, they discovered a pulmonary embolism and I was hospitalized for seven days.
I gradually worked my way back to jogging 30 miles/week. Around the latter part of September, after a flare-up of herniated disks, my right calf and ankle got swollen. Ultrasound found a DVT. Now the pulmonologist is talking about the possibly taking warfarin for the rest of my life. I thought being a runner, living an active lifestyle, being a vegetarian, etc., that I was immune to anything like this. And the prospects of being on warfarin for the rest of my life is really bumming me out. There has to be a way to take natural supplements and herbs to get the effect of warfarin (which is "rat poison").
10/4 Robert McBride: After flights to the mainland from Honolulu, it took three doctors two and a half months to get my DVT/PE diagnosed and treated. I had first noticed ankle swelling, burning, and pain. Then I noticed shortness of breath and my run times, normally around 7 minutes per mile, were slowing to 8, then 9, then 10 minutes. I could no longer walk up the steps without having to catch my breath.
On my third visit to my doctor, I told him I'd conducted research on the web and I believed my condition to be DVT with subsequent Pulmonary Embolism (PE). He said I was not in a risk category for this condition. He had additional blood work done, all of which came back negative. He then sent for an echocardiogram and treadmill test which ruled out heart condition. Then an orthopedic surgeon sent me for a VQ scan which found "extreme probability" of a pulmonary embolism and I was admitted to the hospital for four days of heparin/coumadin treatment.
9/30 John Allen: In November '99 I had a major stroke following a seven-hour flight from the U.K. to The Gulf to take up a new teaching appointment. I was only 44 years old! I had spent 13 years flying hundreds of flights, many long-haul to places like Singapore, as part of a teaching career. The only thing I did differently on the stroke flight was to spend some time at the bar having two or three preflight beers.
Now almost 3 years on I've made a reasonable recovery but have not regained the use of my left arm and walk with a pronounced limp and have yet to return to work. I deeply feel that I should have been informed of the potential risks and precautions to take: limit alcohol consumption, drink plenty of water and take some simple exercise. Such warnings should be made available in airport bars and of course onboard the aircraft. I feel the airport and or airline have been negligent! Do you feel there is any case to be made for seeking compensation?
9/27 KT, Epidemiologist: I had a DVT at age 24, after a trip to Africa where I contracted cholera, became terribly dehydrated, and took a flight to JFK.
On July 7 '02, I flew home to the Boston area from Banff, Alberta. Nine days later I felt a cramp in my calf. I thought maybe I did something in the gym or while in-line skating, but by Friday, July 19, it felt like the previous DVT and I was scared. The docs saw me, but were somewhat dismissive of my thoughts. (I am 38 and very fit.) An ultrasound on Monday was negative.
I continued to tell them this felt like a DVT. They sent me to an orthopedist, who said I had a muscle injury. The pain got significantly worse on Friday night, in spite of taking percocet, but they told me to continue taking it so I was in a narcotic stupor for several days. There was no swelling; I was carefully measuring that. The following Friday it was worse still, and on Saturday, Aug 3, I went to the emergency room, where another ultrasound revealed a DVT. Nearly a month passed between the flight and the correct diagnosis.
Then the leg started swelling badly. The pain was unbearable. For six days in the hospital I cannot recall ever feeling so ill. Released August 8, I have been recovering since. I am back at work now and exhausted, physically and emotionally.
9/23 Emily : I flew Delta from Atlanta to London in August for what was going to be a 12-day vacation throughout Europe. The day after my arrival, I noticed a pain in my left leg that became considerably more painful. The following day I took myself to a London hospital where the doctor dismissed the possibility of DVT, saying it was likely a pulled muscle, but drew blood for tests. The following day the results were still not back and I was then asked to return in two more days. The tests confirmed potential clotting, so I was taken for an ultrasound. My leg was too sensitive for a conclusive ultrasound, yet I was started on daily heparin shots and scheduled to return for another ultrasound four days later. This second ultrasound showed clots in two veins and warfarin was added to my regimen. I had to stay for treatments in London for two weeks before being allowed to return to the U.S.
I am much better now, though still on warfarin for an unknown period of time. I am young (24), healthy and active, jogging several times per week. Medical tests found no blood irregularities or clotting disorders. I am outraged that the U.S. airlines are ignoring this epidemic. My work often causes me to fly weekly, and I have flown overseas several times. Not once have I seen the airlines provide information of the risk of DVT. I am filing a lawsuit asking that the airlines give passengers the information they need.
8/23 Karen Johnson de Perea: On December 11 two of my husband's sisters boarded a flight to Barcelona from Ecuador. During the flight Estela had numbness in her legs, then difficulty breathing and pain in her chest. The aircrew refused assistance, thinking she was smuggling drugs inside her body. (Oxygen should have helped her to live until blood-thinners could be given.) She died in agony lying in the aisle begging for assistance. When they landed her sister was strip-searched. Estela's autopsy said the cause of death was pulmonary embolism.
She was flying to Barcelona in hopes of earning a better life for her precious daughter, now age ten, whom I am now working toward adopting.
8/21/02 Susan: On a 12-plus hour flight I had a business class seat at the window. The person next to me slept the whole flight. Not wanting to disturb him, I think I got up only one time. On Monday, the third day after arriving, I had a little pain in the front of my left leg, but did not pay attention to it. Thursday and Friday my left leg was aching. It didn't go away and on Wednesday I went to the doctor who told me that I had injured a muscle and that rest would help. So I went home again. On Sunday I suddenly became short of breath and fainted going up the stairs.
When I saw the doctor again Wednesday she said I was suffering from stress, although I did not have any feeling of pressure at work or at home, and sent me to the hospital for an ECG and xray. On Thursday another doctor said that nothing showed on the xray and, as to my rapid pulse (120 beats per minute; mine is normally 65-70), he was not worried and sent me home to rest. I could not sleep Friday night from the pain in my leg and went to the hospital on Saturday morning. There I was finally diagnosed: thrombosis! The whole process took 3 weeks!
I was tested to see if I was in a risk group. I was in the middle of the normal group. There is no excuse for this to happen to a healthy 31-year-old!
8/20/02 William Prussing: I used to work for an American oilfield service company, Halliburton. After flying back from Singapore on United Airlines, getting off the plane in San Francisco I felt a tightness in my lower left leg and figured cramping from the long flight. I caught the final leg to West Palm Beach and put it out of my mind. The next day or two I woke to a bright red leg and cramping. I thought it was a charlie horse or something and tried to walk it off. I was 39 and in good health, so I did not take it seriously. I had been doing plenty of physical labor and working out in a makeshift gym.
Then my leg blew up like a basketball, so I went to the emergency room. After a year on warfarin I tried to return to work and flew to Scotland but the doctor noticed swelling and said I would not be able to return work. She said a reoccurrence could be lethal (I have a wife and 3 kids). I went home, severed ties with Halliburton, and now I'm on SS and trying to find some kind of employment that will allow me to work with my limitations.
8/12/02Ted R. Massa: I experienced acute pulmonary emboli with multiple blockages after flights (business class) to Kiev, Frankfurt, London, and Johannesburg. Two weeks after returning home I felt like I had an extended case of 'jet lag' prior to the onset of the PE symptoms. I had no DVT symptoms. My PE symptoms included stabbing back and chest pains, an increasing shortness of breath, and a fever that reached 103.5. I was too tired to eat and lost 20 pounds.
The PE was misdiagnosed as kidney stones and then as pneumonia. My primary care doctor didn't have a clue. Thankfully he went on vacation and his office nurse got me a rush appointment with an exceptional pulmonary specialist who ordered a VQ scan which showed massive blockages in both lungs. Five weeks after the flights, I finally entered intensive care for heparin and warfarin treatment and oxygen. I would have died if I hadn't gotten help.
The stress was intense for my wife, watching me get progressively sicker for five weeks, not knowing what was wrong or whether I was going to make it.
I know of two other cases of PE among athletes, one fellow ultrarunner and one volleyball player/skier. One morbid aspect is that athletes that contract PE probably survive more frequently as compared to people from the general population. In other words, athletes "live to talk about it."
8/10/02 Jo - Flight Attendant: I thought I had pulled a calf muscle while loading a cart; I didn't know anything about DVT. Once I got home I felt really tired. Went to the doctor two days later where ultrasound identified DVT. Next day my knee was really swollen and painful and I went to the hospital where they found that, possibly due to a massage in Bangkok, four clot fragments were blocking veins in my lungs.
The shock factor is unbelievable. I am very sad about everything. My employers have blamed it on me taking the pill and being the occasional smoker (max two per day). As far as their doctors are concerned it has nothing to do with flying. Meanwhile I have no income for 6 months.
Mike I am 37 and I love exercising. I do thirty minutes of jogging every other day, with thirty minutes of walking on the alternate days, plus weight lifting. I am starting the third of six months of being warfarinized. Will it be safe for me to go back flying? Or am I in danger?
8/5/02 Fern Oshoko: I flew from Gatwick to Tenerife on the 8th May 1998, a four-hour flight. During the holiday I had a bad cough and some days I just wanted to lie down. There was no pain or swelling in my legs. After returning home, each day I felt progressively worse until on the 31st I could hardly breathe. A doctor prescribed antibiotics and sent me home.
After pain developed beneath my lung another doctor said it was my gall bladder and prescribed pain killers. The pain grew worse and a third doctor prescribed stronger pain killers and more antibiotics. On the 5th I saw the Senior Consultant who concluded that I had pneumonia and pleurisy. His Assistant Consultant suspected a blood clot when he noticed I had a suntan and asked if I had flown recently. But the Senior Consultant ruled out a lung scan because I was only 40, in excellent fitness, and had no risk factors for blood clots.
Terrible pain on the 14th. Finally suspecting blood clots, they began a heparin drip. Lung scan the next morning confirmed multiple pulmonary emboli, more than five weeks after the ill-fated holiday began. Now my lungs are permanently damaged and I am susceptible to pneumonia and pleurisy. I wanted to be in good health for my two sons, who were 3 and 6 at the time, but it was not to be.
7/28/02 Susan Ralston: I recently flew from Florida to Maine. I had surgery three weeks prior to the flight but my physician assured me that the trip should be alright. The longest flight was about 2 hours 15 minutes. Back in Florida I experienced swelling in my left foot and ankle. I called my physician and she told me to elevate my foot and watch for red streaks, pain, or anything unusual. My foot stayed swollen until I saw the doctor four days later. She sent me in for an ultrasound scan of my left leg and they discovered a blood clot in the back of that knee. I was hospitalized for four days and sent home using Lovenox injections and warfarin. I am very angry at the doctor and at the airlines for not informing me that something like this could happen.
I am so angry after reading all the messages posted, please feel free to use my full name and quote me. I was in good health..had just had a physical at the beginning of June. I am a moderate walker, non-smoker, non-drinker, 45 years old. If I can help or save only ONE person from going through the experience I have, then, YES I would be willing to file a lawsuit.
6/26/02 Lars Fischer : Mid August 1997 I had a light fall while mountain climbing in Europe. My left leg was caught between some rocks. It was swollen, hot and red behind the knee. About to take a flight from Geneva to Pheonix, I had an acupuncture treatment which relieved the pain long enough for my trip .
In Phoenix I was feeling weak and having trouble breathing. One morning I could barely lift the towel after a shower. My doctor was sure I had a heart attack but I insisted on having my leg examined which confirmed DVT and then PE was diagnosed. After three months on warfarin I felt strong enough to return to Europe and resume exercise but no more mountain climbing.
After bruising my leg while skiing in '99, I was diagnosed with phlebitis. I began using heparin for all plane flights, even short ones, flying business class, and wearing compression stockings. In January '02, after a flight to central america, another episode. I knew before the test results that I had DVT and PE. Now, on warfarin again, my energy level fluctuates a great deal. I have not been able to get back to any reasonable exercise routine, although I do still walk anywhere that I can.
I am more than happy to accept and respond to any emails concerning my case or your own. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
6/21/02 Ryszard Pluta, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a neurosurgeon-researcher who took a trip to China to give several lectures, returning June 8. I noticed a pain in my calf and was diagnosed and treated for deep venous thrombosis(DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). The standard blood-thinning treatment stops progression of the clot and prevents often-lethal PE but it does not dissolve the clot. The clot has to dissolve naturally, which can take months, by which time veins are often irreparably damaged and the victim's fate is to eventually develop crippling chronic DVT.
Fortunately I received intravenous thrombolysis (clot dissolving) with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA), a technique developed by Dr. Richard Chang, who says "Thrombolytic therapy is very effective if the clot is fresh. If one waits for a month, the clot becomes resistant to thrombolysis and scarring of the vein and valves begins . . (leading to eventual chronic DVT.)
The window for effective treatment is about two weeks, so the victim needs to be able to immediately recognize symptoms. (Since symptoms typically don't appear until several days after the flight, the victim must recognize them right away, not waiting a few days for the "cramp" to go away.) The airlines and government should step in to . . . provide adequate information for travelers.
I am 49 and was in perfect health before this. I run or walk two miles per day, walk up to my fourteenth floor office, and enjoy skiing, sailing, tennis and golf. I am angry that the airlines came so close to ending my career, which requires being able to stand for hours, and all the activities I enjoy.
6/14/02 Teresa: On May 31st I flew back to Amarillo, from Kona, Hawaii on American Airlines. On the longest leg, five hours from Kona to LA, we were encouraged by the pilot not to get up unnecessarily. It was an overnight flight and I fell asleep and then there was turbulence and I didn't get up at all. After a 3 hr. drive home (with rest stops) I noticed my feet and calves were really swollen and reddish. No pain when walking. I went to the ER where they took my situation very seriously and verified clots in my legs. I was admitted and put on heparin.
I'm 44 and in pretty good shape (2-3 miles daily on bicycle.) I don't fall into any of the high risk categories. The thing that most concerns me now are the comments from victims who are still having problems down the road. Also that this can happen to anyone. I'm a little angry that the airline didn't warn us about the problem and how to avoid it.
6/13/02 Amy Hamilton: About 5 days after a flight from Washington DC to Minneapolis, I felt a sharp pain in my lower left lung, which I thought was a muscle strain. For the next couple of weeks I was getting increasingly short of breath. Finally, one night while taking a kick boxing class, I checked my heart rate (normally 120 during heavy exercise) and it was about 160! That prompted me to seek medical attention. Since I live in Rochester, MN, I was sent to the Mayo Clinic. I was the second PE sufferer seen that night, and one of many they had recently treated, so I got great care. The doctor told me I had more emboli than any living patient he'd ever seen.
They hospitalized me overnight. My blood pressure and heart rate returned to normal pretty rapidly once the heparin started. They sent me home on injectable heparin and I started Coumadin. The doctor said my years of aerobic exercise had definitely paid off, since my heart just pumped all the clots through.
On any flight I have ever taken, I've not seen any written material about exercises. No flight attendant has ever mentioned it. I have several friends who are Federal Air Marshals, and I gave them a copy of several pages from your web site to post in their training areas. Apparently, the possibility of DVT is discussed at length in their training. I'm not opposed to being part of a class-action lawsuit if the goal is to get the airlines to do more.
5/23/02 Jackie S, Boston: My mom has a good friend who recently developed a DVT on a flight from Mexico to Newark. She was hospitalized for a week and is on medication for 6 months. This is not so rare as the airlines want us to believe!
I recently returned to Boston from Honolulu on American Airlines and could not find one mention anywhere of DVT in the in-flight magazine, the safety instruction card, or my boarding pass. In fact we were very much encouraged to remain in our seats. They provided every passenger in coach class with their own little pillow and blanket, encouraging us to stay in our seats and sleep. The day before, I had just heard of DVT for the first time from my traveling partner, but neither one of us knew much about it or any of the precautions - and the airline certainly did not help to inform us! I spent the entire flight in anxiety over DVT, as well as several days after the flight, which could have been alleviated had the airline simply given us some factual information.
5/21/02 Dr. Richard Jaffe: I am a podiatrist and I was a little aware of the risk of phlebitis from long flights. There were many aspects of this which I was not aware of. (The Air Transport Association says: "We have done more than enough to properly inform the traveling public." The doctor, who does power walking one hour per day plus intensive 2-hour workouts 2-3 time per week and who suffered a pulmonary embolism after a flight from Florida to California, goes on to say:)
I know that I will always have compromised vascularity in my leg and in all probability will develop leg and foot ulcers when I get older (much like the patients I treat).
I am still very upset about this. Just as I am responsible for the safety of patients under my care (mainly surgical), it is also true that the airline is responsible for my safety while I am on their flights. If the statistics are that 5% of travelers develop a blood clot, even if most are harmless, then the airline industry is evading a serious responsibility to the travelers for whose safety they are responsible.
5/9/02 Jay Gordon: I've been flying all my life, since I was five years old. No one ever told me that the biggest danger is blood clots. After a trip from Phoenix to Moline I had shortness of breath that kept getting worse, unexpected since I walk aerobically, three miles three times a week. Finally, after fainting several times, I went to the hospital where they found clots in both lungs. I was close to death. I am very angry that my life was put in such grave danger. Airline executives and decision makers are aware of this and I should have been warned. I find this unethical corporate behavior to be callous indifference to human life and criminal negligence.
4/22/02 Laura Heinzinger: You don't have to be an athlete to have a low resting pulse. My sister, my father and I are not athletic but we all have a slow resting pulse; mine is 45-50. In December my husband and I made a vacation trip to Cancun. Before returning we saw a BBC broadcast about air travel thrombosis which prompted me to exercise during the flight to Toronto. A few days later I saw a doctor about a badly stubbed toe. He said it wasn't broken and asked me how long the other foot had been swollen. An ultrasound scan confirmed a DVT. After a few days of treatment it was time to fly home to Vancouver. We asked Air Canada for bulkhead seats but we were refused. Back home in Vancouver, I had to explain to my doctor why I needed warfarin and regular blood tests. I'm stopping the warfarin now after four months, but I feel occasional pains in my legs and I worry that it might be another DVT.
Air Canada showed an exercise video "to arrive refreshed" but only on a flight that was going on to Hong Kong and never mentioning DVT.
4/7/02 John Menditto: On March 8, 2002, my mother, aged 69, suffered a stroke as she rose from her seat to disembark from a British Airways flight from London to Washington, D.C. Doctors have now determined that a clot had formed in her leg and passed through a small hole in her heart to her brain. She is paralyzed on her right side and faces a long recovery period.
My mother was in perfect health prior to the flight -- very active walking, gardening, caring for my 6 and 2 year old children, etc. According to my mother, BA offered no advice in-flight concerning the need for passengers to stretch their legs. In light of this fact, you may want to reconsider your ranking of BA.
3/10 John Anthony Thomas: a healthy young police officer. 30, who died after returning to London from a honeymoon trip to Hawaii. He had just received a commendation for fitness.
3/5/02 A Buchanan: I lost one of my best friends her wedding trip to India. She was 32, worked out at the gym a lot, average weight, vegetarian, nonsmoker, nondrinker, no health problems or medications, no family history of DVT. The only possible risk factor was an ankle injury but it had healed well enough that she was doing a lot of walking. The doctors could find nothing but air travel to be the cause of her pulmonary embolism.
2/23/02 Don: Due to a previous flight-induced DVT, I was taking extra precautions on a flight from Minneapolis to Germany in March '01. I was in business class with my legs elevated in a newly configured aircraft allowing more than usual leg elevation and I was taking aspirin as recommended by my doctor. Before the return flight and more afterward, I noticed shortness of breath. It progressed to chest and shoulder pain and sent me to the hospital after 38 days where multiple PE's were found.
I had been walking a fair amount in those days, had no other risk factors and tested negative for genetic risk factors. Now I am on warfarin for life and using a treadmill five days a week.
2/15/02 John Smith, MP: After a flight from Australia to England, a rugby player, 37, incurred permanent lung damage from a pulmonary embolism. His father is a constituent of mine. I am campaigning vigorously for more cooperation from the airlines.
2/5/02 Judy: My husband is a healthy 45 year old police officer, an underwater rescue diver who rode an exercise bike a few times a week. We flew from Baltimore, MD to Cozumel Mexico this past May on Ryan airlines. About 3 weeks later my husband started having chest pain and difficulty breathing. He was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. He will be on warfarin blood thinner for the rest of his life because the DVT in his left leg has become chronic. He had to take early retirement and he cannot take a job with risk of bleeding injury. He has been depressed because he loved diving and now all his expensive equipment is gathering dust.
2/1/02 Dr. Robert McBane, Mayo Clinic: I applaud your efforts in this campaign and believe that your role is excellent. Keep up the effort.
1/24/02 Michele O'Connor: I am an extremely active 47 year old who, before Nov. 16, 2001, worked out quite strenuously 5-6 days per week. I ran (averaging 5 miles a run) and took conditioning classes. My husband and I took a 5 hour vacation flight to Hawaii. I swam daily and ran on alternate days. During the flight home, my left leg hurt. I walked and stretched it a bit in the back of the plane. I thought I had pulled a muscle in my calf. I still followed my regular work out routine but after a week I could not walk. At the hospital an ultrasound scan confirmed DVT. One of the nurses told me that they see quite a lot of people coming directly from San Francisco International Airport with DVT. The hospital is 5 minutes from the airport. I am frustrated and wrote to the airlines stating that they should alert passengers of the symptoms and dangers of DVT.
I am just now (2 months later) attempting to walk on the treadmill. My leg gets extremely sore and tired due to the clot. Another person I know who was diagnosed with flight-induced DVT over a year ago is still having problems with his leg. For a person committed to fitness, this is very frustrating. I've been doing research on what kinds of exercise are advisable but I'm not getting any answers. I am also scared to death to take another plane ride.
1/4/02 Richard F, airline pilot. In May '97 I was having some leg pain walking up hills. Then I had an attack which seemed like a heart attack, but turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. Hot sweats, dizzy, pain in chest. I was then misdiagnosed twice, by two different doctors, as having claudication (limp), was given medication to "make the blood slippier" and sent back to work by the airline doctor. Eventually I was properly diagnosed and treated. Now I am retired on disability, still limited to reduced walking. I am taking warfarin and will for life.
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