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e-thrombosis

E-thrombosis is a newly recognized variant of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) caused by sitting at a computer for long periods of time. Thrombosis is the development of a blood clot (thrombus) in the heart or a blood vessel, which then puts the victim at risk for an embolism (obstruction of blood flow). DVT first became associated with long periods of sitting during World War II, when accelerated rates of fatal embolisms were suffered by Londoners sitting in deck chairs in air-raid shelters. Since then, long airplane flights have been cited as a risk factor for DVT (in this case sometimes called economy class syndrome).

A research article by Dr. Richard Beasley and colleagues in The European Respiratory Journal described the first reported case of e-thrombosis, which occurred in a New Zealand man who developed DVT after periods of sitting at a computer for up to18 hours a day. The article points out that the prevalence of computers may pose a threat to people who spend much of their time working at them. According to Beasley, "It may be similar to the situation with the risk of blood clots with long distance air travel. It was not until there was publicity with individual cases that the real extent of the problem was recognized."

Beasley and his colleagues recommend taking precautions, such as performing foot and ankle exercises when sitting for extended periods and taking frequent breaks away from your computer.

This was last updated in September 2005

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