When your computer can kill you
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- Doctors say that sitting for long hours at a computer terminal may have
the same effect as taking a long-haul flight in cramped seating - it could
cause a fatal blood clot.
research published in the latest issue of the European Respiratory
Journal, New Zealand researchers report the case of a 32-year-old man who
first suffered a swollen calf, whose pain subsided after 10 days.
the ensuing weeks, however, he became increasingly breathless when he
exerted himself, and then one day lost consciousness.
cause was a massive blood clot that had formed in his leg veins, broke off
and travelled to his lungs - a potentially fatal "deep vein
thrombosis" (DVT) identical to that notoriously suffered by
travellers on long flights.
patient used to sit immobile at his computer screen, at work and at home,
for 12 hours a day, and on occasions for up to 18 hours.
would typically sit for one to two hours, and not infrequently as many as
six, without standing up from his work station," say the authors, led
by Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, based
is the first reported case of an association between repeated prolonged
immobility sitting at a computer and life-threatening (lung
embolism)," they write.
suggest the condition be called "e-thrombosis."
DVT as a result of prolonged sitting was first recognised during the Blitz
in World War II, when cases of fatal embolisms emerged among Londoners who
sat for long periods in deckchairs in air-raid shelters.
recently, DVT has emerged as a potential, though very remote, risk for
travellers on long, intercontinental flights.
has been dubbed "economy class syndrome" because the phenomenon
occurs more frequently among passengers in cramped seating, although
researchers say it can occur in any seating where passengers are
British high court last month blocked a bid by 55 victims of deep-vein
thrombosis who had filed suit against 27 airlines, alleging that the
carriers had breached their duty of care because of their cramped seating:
ruled that the plaintiffs, had no case under the 1929 Warsaw Convention on
air travel as DVT was unexpected and could not be considered an accident
in the normal operating of an aircraft.
occurs when the flow of blood is restricted in a vein and a clot forms. It
can also be caused by poor circulation because of problems such as heart
disease, a recent heart attack or stroke, varicose veins, or from
inactivity or prolonged bed rest.