Window or aisle? Your seat preference on an airplane could land you in a higher-risk category for a potentially deadly blood clot, a new study finds.
The risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is notably higher for passengers in window seats, according to a study in the medical journal Chest. Other factors such as a passenger's age, obesity, and the duration of the flight also play a role, the study found.
"Long-distance travelers sitting in a window seat tend to have limited mobility, which increases their risk for DVT," one of the study's authors told Fox News. The risk is highest on flights longer than eight hours, he said.
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein, usually in a person's lower leg or thigh, according to the National Institutes of Health. The clot can impede blood flow, causing painful swelling; the clot can also break off and travel through the bloodstream, damaging vital organs like the brain, lungs, or heart.
Remaining in a prolonged, seated position can raise the risk of blood clots. That makes window-seat passengers more at risk than others, because they're less likely to get up and walk around, according to the study by researchers at McMaster University in Canada.
Passengers affected by DVT have sued airlines for negligence. Airlines knew about the risk of DVT, but failed to warn passengers to get up and move around to reduce the risk of blood clots, the lawsuits generally claim.
In legal circles, the condition is sometimes called "economy class syndrome," ABC News reports. Lawsuits usually point to cramped coach-class seats and limited leg room.
But the Chest study debunked "economy class syndrome" as a myth. There is no difference between economy and first-class passengers' risk of DVT -- rather, remaining seated on a long flight is a more critical factor, the study found.