Blood clot warning: The way you sit at your desk could be increasing your risk

This Morning: Dr Chris shows exercise to prevent blood clots

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Blood clots play an important role in preventing excessive bleeding but they can be serious if they break off and travel through the bloodstream. Blood clots can block the arteries that supply blood to your heart, hiking your risk of having a heart attack. If you spend prolonged periods of time at your desk, you may be raising your risk of developing blood clots, warned Cheryl Lythgoe, Matron at Benenden Health.

Lythgoe explained: “When sitting, many people naturally cross their legs and, irrespective whether this is for comfort or modesty, this position can impact our heart health and increases our chances of getting blood clots.”

In fact, “sitting for long periods of time with our legs crossed has the same risk as sitting on a long plane journey,” she warned.

What’s more, the cross-legged position can spur on other heart disease precursors.

“Crossing the legs at the knees induces a temporary spike in your blood pressure that increases the pressure to your heart,” warned Lythgoe.

She continued: “The increased pressure not only affects our blood flow but also our nervous system and joints – who’d have thought sitting could be so dangerous?

“Whilst it certainly doesn’t mean you’re at immediate risk, how you sit can pose harm to our health.”

If you do change one daily ritual, Lythgoe advised being more mindful about how you sit.

“Instil a ritual to sit with both feet placed on the floor, rotate the ankles occasionally and ensure you get up every 90 minutes to walk around.”

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In addition to tweaking your sitting position, there are other ways you can reduce your risk of clots.

According to the NHS, you should drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

“You’re more likely to get a clot if you’re dehydrated,” explains the health body.

The health body also recommends:

  • Try to lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Wearing flight stockings or flight socks to improve your blood flow on long flights – a pharmacist can advise you about this.

How to spot a blood clot

The symptoms depend on the part of the body that is affected.

For example, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – where a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body – usually causes pain and swelling in your legs, explains the NHS.

You also notice:

  • Red or discoloured skin on the leg
  • A feeling of warmth in the affected leg.

If the blood clot has travelled from a deep vein to a lung, you may experience a host of unsettling symptoms.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing
  • Coughing up blood.

How to respond

Blood clots can be life threatening if not treated quickly.

According to the NHS, it is imperative to call 111 and follow the advice.

“They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.”

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