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Office workers 'doubling risk of blood clots'

Kim Hookem-Smith
15 May 2012

A charity has warned that young office workers and video game enthusiasts are putting their health at risk with their sedentary lives.

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all linked to an unhealthy lifestyle but sitting for long periods can also increase the immediate health risk due to blood clots, the charity, Lifeblood warned.

[Related article: Working lunch - healthy choices for when you're at your desk]

Deep vein thrombosis, dubbed economy class syndrome as it has been linked to cramped long-haul flights, can affect anyone who sits for prolonged periods without getting up to move around.

A survey of 1,000 people aged under 30, found young desk-bound professionals sat still for an average of three hours and three quarters ate lunch at their desk instead of taking the opportunity to move around, which would reduce their risk of a clot.

Furthermore, eight out of ten young professionals spent the evening sitting on their sofa at home.After sitting for 90 minutes the blood flow at the back of the knee drops by half and this increases the chances of developing a blood clot two fold, the charity said.

For every hour spent sitting, the risk of a blood clot increases by 10 per cent and there are around 60,000 potentially fatal blood clots recorded in Britain each year.

Dr Richard Beasley, Director of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, said: “People know that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life.

"However, very few are aware of the fact that prolonged immobility in the workplace also poses an immediate threat, more than doubling the risk of developing a potentially fatal blood clot. It is vital that this potential risk is recognised in both the office and at home.

"People must be educated regarding the risks associated with sitting down for long periods and offered strategies to change their work practices.”

Video gamers aged between 16 and 21 were also included in the survey and it was found they sat for an average of two hours without moving and some admitted to sitting for five hours.

Half even put off comfort breaks and eating and drinking, while playing.

The survey found that 96 per cent of gamers regularly played for more than 90 minutes.

Professor Beverley Hunt, Medical Director of Lifeblood, said: “Our research has uncovered a ticking time-bomb with some nine million office workers and countless young gamers putting themselves at risk of a potentially fatal blood clot.

"The human body is designed for the ‘caveman’ lifestyle; active, agile and constantly mobile. Instead we have become increasingly sedentary, obstructing the body’s ability to function as it should.

"It is imperative that we take heed of these early warning signs, and take regular breaks, be it at your desk or in front of a video game.”

A DVT is a blood clot, also known as a thrombosis, that forms in a deep vein, most commonly in your leg or pelvis.

It may cause no symptoms at all or cause swelling, redness and pain.

If a clot becomes dislodged and passes through the blood vessels it can reach the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain and breathlessness and can be fatal.

Read more on The Telegraph.

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