New study says office workers at risk of DVTThey're more prone to clots than air travellers

12 March 2007

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Office workers glued to computer screens are at greater risk of deadly blood clots forming in their legs than long-haul air travellers, a New Zealand study on thrombosis said today.

The study found that 34 per cent of patients admitted to hospital with blood clots had been seated at work for long periods, Prof Richard Beasley of New Zealand's privately-funded Medical Research Institute, said.

Deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition in which a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the legs.

The condition can be fatal if part of the clot breaks off and blocks a blood vessel in the lungs.

Long-haul flights

The condition has been linked to long-haul flights and dubbed ‘economy class syndrome’, because such passengers often do not have the space or opportunity to stretch enough to reduce the risk of blood clotting.

‘Being seated for long periods of time ... the risk is certainly there’ of blood clots developing in the veins of the legs, Beasley told New Zealand’s National Radio.

‘There are considerably more people who are seated for long periods at work as part of their normal day than there are travelling,’ he said, adding the main groups affected are workers in the information technology industry and in call centres.

The study covered 62 patients aged under 65 who were admitted to hospital with blood clots.

Beasley said a surprise finding of the study was that ‘people are working for so long. We had people not uncommonly working up to 12-14 hours a day and being seated for that time’.

Work-related thrombosis

The 34 per cent finding is far higher than the 1.4 per cent of blood-clot patients who recently travelled on long-haul flights, and the study showed a clear link between travel and work-related thrombosis.

Some reported being seated for three to four hours at a stretch, ‘reflecting the very sedentary nature of our work at the moment’, said Beasley.

The study will be published next month in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

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