Long Flights Pose Increased Blood Clot Risk in Servicemembers

Servicemembers deploying to distant areas on long flights may be at increased risk of developing blood clots, according to Army officials.

Colonel Bernard Geiser, Army Reserve battalion surgeon, said he would see a servicemember suffering from a blood clot roughly once every 10 days in Kuwait, according to Stars and Stripes. As a civilian working at a Pittsburgh ER, he would see about one blood clot a month.

Army officials believe that the increased instances of blood clots among servicemembers is due to the increased amount of long flights many make when deploying to overseas stations. Some flights may take as long as 21 to 24 hours with multiple legs of the trip lasting well over the maximum four hours a person should remain stationary.

Even civilian airlines warn of the dangers of sitting too long on international flights, and recommend passengers get up and stretch. The World Health Organization found that the risk of blood clots doubles when a person sits for more than four hours.

Military Service and the Dangers of Blood Clots

Veterans who served overseas or were required to complete long flights or periods of sitting lasting more than four hours may be at an increased risk of developing blood clots. Long periods of sitting cause blood to pool in the legs, creating the clot. This condition, known as deep vein thrombosis, can cause painful swelling in the legs, but some have no symptoms at all.

The biggest risk of a blood clot in the legs is when it breaks away and travels to vital organs like the lungs. This condition, known as pulmonary embolism, can block blood flow in the lungs and cause stroke or death.

Treating blood clots in the field is a difficult process due to the medication procedures and many servicemembers are taken out of the theater to be treated at other military hospitals. If a blood clot causes a stroke or other permanent damage, this may qualify a veteran for disability benefits to cover any lasting damage.

Medical conditions developed due to your military service may qualify for veterans’ disability benefits. To learn more about your rights to benefits and health care through the VA, the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group can help. Contact our firm today 1-855-855-8992.