Although the risk is small -- equal to seven extra cases per 10,000 person-years -- the results could have major public health ramifications, the editorialists noted.
The study offers "additional evidence to prove what we've already seen in other contexts," Dr. Furqan Tejani, director of advanced cardiovascular imaging the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in New York City, said in an e-mailed statement.
"For instance, Olympic athletes who took trips from Europe to Australia were found to have deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Recently, in fact, one of the Williams sisters [tennis star Serena Williams] also had pulmonary embolism," Tejani noted.
"Whether travel and prolonged sitting had anything to do with it is not clear, but because a mounting body of evidence pointing to the fact that it may be, it is recommended that one take a baby aspirin before long-haul travels described as lasting more than eight hours," Tejani added. "Certainly it is recommended to at least get up and walk around the aircraft cabin and do calf muscle exercises on a regular basis while en route."
The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more about pulmonary embolism.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCES: BMJ, news release, July 4, 2011; Furqan Tejani, M.D., director of advanced cardiovascular imaging, and associate professor of medicine, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
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