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Woman dies of DVT-related ailment on long-haul flight

July 15, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A New Zealand woman flying to visit her daughter in Hawaii died from a condition associated with deep vein thrombosis during the long-haul flight.

The woman’s death was reported by Air New Zealand, which said a coroner was called and normal processes followed on landing. Reports emerged that the plane had been grounded at Los Angeles International Airport  with all passengers aboard for several hours while waiting for the coroner to collect the woman’s body. It was the Fourth of July, a public holiday, in the USA, but that shouldn’t have made any difference.

Gillian Browne, a 65-year-old mother of four, was on a 12-hour Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Los Angeles when the tragedy occurred, the New Zealand Herald reported at the weekend.

Sergeant Karla Ortiz of Los Angeles International Airport police said CPR was unsuccessfully performed on Browne after the plane arrived on Friday.

A post-mortem examination was performed two days later.  Los Angeles County Coroner spokesman Lieutenant David Smith said Browne died as the result of a pulmonary thromboembolism — caused by a blood clot entering one of the main arteries leading into her lungs, the paper reported.

Pulmonary embolisms can be caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), when a blood clot forms somewhere in the body and then breaks off and is carried by the bloodstream to lodge in the lungs or brain.

On Air New Zealand’s website, the airline’s chief medical officer Dr Tim Sprott says people more at risk of DVT are the elderly, the overweight, smokers, people who have just had surgery or are pregnant or on oral contraceptives and those with heart conditions, cancer, or who have a family history of blood clots.

Advice on avoiding DVT in flight includes drinking plenty of water,  walking around the plane from time to time during the flight, exercising calf muscles every half hour, not taking sleeping pills that might leave you motionless in your seat for hours, avoiding tight clothing around the waist and considering wearing support stockings.

Written by : William Sykes

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