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Deadly Blood Clots from Prolonged Sitting

Aug 14th 2016

Deadly Blood Clots from Prolonged Sitting

52459744_pHere’s another reason to unglue yourself from that computer and move your butt—prolonged sitting can lead to deadly blood clots!

Although blood clots generally don’t become problematic until after the age of forty, a case report on a 32-year-old man is a cautionary tale.

This relatively young man spent a good part of his life sitting at a computer terminal, both during the day at work and at home at night—all told about 12 hours most days and sometimes 18 hours a day. He would typically sit anywhere from 4½-6 hours at a time without getting up.

One fine day he blacked out and found himself in the hospital with a potentially life-threatening venous thromboembolism (VTE). Fortunately he was given clot-busting drugs in time and survived.

According to the American Heart Association, a VTE is a blood clot related to two life-threatening conditions: (1) deep vein thrombosis (DVT): a clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg; and (2) a pulmonary embolism (PE): a DVT clot that breaks free from a vein wall and travels to the lungs, where it blocks some or all of the blood supply. There are about 900,000 VTE cases per year in the US, leading to 44,000 deaths.

Get to a hospital fast if you experience signs of a DVT (tenderness or pain in a leg, especially the calf; leg redness, swelling and heat) or PE (trouble breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, dizziness and fainting).

These kinds of blood clots have always been a potential problem in people immobilized by illness or injury or traveling in airplanes for long periods of time. Other risk factors include recent major surgery, being pregnant or just having given birth, smoking, estrogen replacement therapy/birth control pills, history of clots, genetic factors, and being over the age of 40. But, as the authors of this report point out, excessive sitting at a computer both at work and at home is a relatively new risk factor. And although usually two or more risk factors are involved in an incident, the patient in the Case Report had only the one.

While getting up and moving around is the best way to avoid DVT, as we age, hypercoagulation (the tendency of blood to clot) becomes more and more of an issue. Our blood vessels become less elastic, and blood flows more slowly. This increases its tendency to coagulate. A sedentary lifestyle exacerbates this tendency, while regular exercise keeps blood vessels flexible and youthful.

Sufficient quantities of vitamin C, vitamin E and quercetin are essential to keeping blood vessels youthful and healthy. Additional supplements that can help “thin the blood” (reduce its hyper-readiness to clot) are curcumin, gingko biloba, fish and flax oils, olive oil, magnesium and garlic.


  1. Beaseley R. eThrombosis: the 21st century variant of venous thromboembolism associated with immobility. European Respiratory Journal. 2003;21:374-376.
  1. American Heart Association. Venous thromboembolism (VTE). Updated July 29, 2016. Accessed August 5, 2016.




Information contained in NewsClips articles should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.