Economy class stroke syndrome: case report and review of the literature

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2004 Mar;27(3):239-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2003.12.024.


Objectives: Venous thromboembolism associated with travelling, or economy class syndrome, is increasingly recognised as a sequence of long haul flights and so paradoxical cerebral embolism through a patent foramen ovale. Materials and methods. We present a new case of economy class stroke syndrome and review of the literature using MEDLINE search.

Results: Literature review identified 12 additional cases. In most of them, stroke occurred in close approximation with landing of the aircraft following a long-haul flight. Venous thromboembolism was present in 58%, while a patent foramen ovale was diagnosed with contrast echocardiography in all but one case. Our case presented with severe left hemispheric stroke, and significant delay, two days after a long-haul flight.

Conclusions: The small number of reported cases indicates either the rarity of this entity or unawareness of its existence. The true incidence of this condition remains unknown. However, because of treatment implications such as the need to treat venous thromboembolism or close the patent foramen ovale, clinicians should be aware of this entity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Cerebral Infarction / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Infarction / etiology
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / complications
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Thromboembolism / etiology*
  • Travel*