WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION STUDIES TRAVEL RISKS
Dr. Garrett is a clinical pharmacist practitioner at Cornerstone Health Care in High Point, NC.
In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) began a 2-phase project called the WHO Research Into Global Hazards ofTravel (WRIGHT) Project. The objectives of the project were toconfirm that the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) isincreased by air travel and to determine the magnitude of risk,the effect of other factors on the risk, and the effect of preventivemeasures on risk.
The key findings of the WRIGHT Phase I report include the following:
- The risk of VTE roughly doubles with flights greater than 4 hours and increaseswith longer flights or repeated flights within a short period of time.
- Overall, the absolute risk of VTE appears to be about 1 in 6000 healthy individuals,but the risk is primarily concentrated in patients with hypercoagulable conditions,those using birth control pills, or those who have other risk factors such asobesity, extremes of height (less than 5?2? or greater than 6?2?), older age, and cardiovasculardisease.
- The VTE risk is greatest immediately following a flight, but some risk persistsfor several weeks afterward.