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Feeling Out of Circulation on Long Flights? Try Slippers

July 30, 2001|Benedict Carey

It's 3 a.m. Pacific time, you're somewhere over Greenland, trapped behind a tray table, feeling as if your feet are ready to burst out of your shoes.

Some experts now believe that the cramped conditions on airline flights increase some people's risk of developing blood clots in their legs, a condition called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, which can be deadly. Airport officials in London estimate that DVT claims the life of about one Heathrow International Airport passenger a month.

Sometimes called "economy class syndrome," for obvious legroom reasons, the clotting can be a problem whenever legs are motionless for long periods (including in business and first class).

Elderly people and pregnant women in particular can have circulation problems on long flights, and doctors recommend that they periodically move their legs, stretch or stroll the aisle--if possible.

If not, let your moccasins do the walking for you. A San Francisco company, Medical Dynamics, just gained approval to market its Food and Drug Administration-approved pneumatic slippers in Europe.

Many people already use compression stockings for long trips.

But the slippers "use sequential foot compression to simulate the natural action of walking, thereby improving blood flow in the lower limbs," the company says.

They may also protect your toes from that clammy airline restroom floor.

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