Is your day job putting you at risk for DVT?

Sarah-Belle Murphy
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Image: Getty

The danger of sitting at a desk doubles the chance that someone may suffer deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and is a greater risk for some than boarding a long haul flight, according to research from New Zealand's Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2008.

Given the bad press that economy-class plane seats have had in recent years, it's amazing that any of us make the trip from state to state, let alone the lengthy journey overseas. The shiny appeal of an international break has been tarnished by the worry that DVT will finish us off before the plane touches down.

Research has shown that despite the circus in the press, it is not the size or comfort of a plane seat that is the worry, but the length of time an individual sits with feet hanging and the seat pressing into the back of the thighs. In this light, a long car trip with no manoeuvring space thanks to an over-packed and over-populated vehicle poses a similar health threat. Although in this scenario, stop-offs tend to be a prerequisite to avoid harming one another before arrival!

Ironically, it is the workaholics who sit daydreaming about their holiday and pondering the threat of DVT who are perhaps most at risk. Why? Sitting from nine 'til five and conscientiously avoiding too many tea breaks can cause blood clots or thromboses in the leg or pelvis (the areas of the vascular system most at risk). The problem has less to do with air pressure and lack of fluids (as in a plane) and more to do with legs hanging for long periods of time.

Still unsure why DVT is such a health threat? In short, if part of the clot breaks away to flow through the heart and reach the lungs, it can get stuck in a vessel. The tissue supplied by that vessel will die, starving vital organs of oxygen and nutrients. It can be lethal.

Don't give up your holiday for fear of DVT, simply keep as active as possible. Try listening to the flight attendants for a change, who will offer advice on in-your-seat exercises. And for all the office workers around the country, that tea break is a heath must, so enjoy.


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