Blood-clot risk for desk-bound

Doctors are urging regular breaks after a study found a three-fold increase in the risk of blood clots for those who sit at computers or work desks for prolonged stretches.

The heightened risk was linked to the maximum number of hours seated, as well as the number of hours seated without getting up, said Wellington physician Richard Beasley, who led the study by the NZ Medical Research Institute.

Those who sat for 10 hours or more a day at a desk or computer and those who sat for more than two hours without a break were found to be more at risk of life-threatening clots in the form of either deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolisms (PE), he said. The risk rose with every further hour they sat.

“‘Seated immobility thromboembolism’ was first recognised during the Second World War when people died from blood clots after sitting in deck chairs in air raid shelters during the London Blitz.

Professor Beasley urged people who commonly sat for long periods at a computer to do frequent leg and foot exercises and take regular breaks.

The study, of 197 Wellington and Kenepuru patients, was funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation and published in the UK Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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