Blood clots risk heightens during pandemic

World Thrombosis Day 2020 organisers highlight simple steps to reduce risk of thrombosis

A thrombosis expert is urging anyone working at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic to take regular breaks and exercise to avoid the risk of potentially deadly blood clots forming.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and pulmonary embolism (PE) are leading causes of death and disability worldwide, and a major cause of blood clots is lack of mobility.

Speaking on World Thrombosis Day (October 13) today, one of the founding members of the clinician group VTE Ireland, Dr Fionnuala Ní Áinle, warned that remaining seated for prolonged periods was associated with the pooling of blood in the legs.

“This may cause swelling, stiffness and discomfort,” Dr Ní Áinle, who is also a Consultant Haematologist at the Mater Misericordiae University and Rotunda hospitals, said.

“If you’re working from home don’t forget to take breaks to move throughout the day,” she continued.

“Immobility is one of the factors that may lead to the development of a blood clot in a deep vein such as deep vein thrombosis.”

Around one in four people worldwide die from conditions related to thrombosis.

World Thrombosis Day is marked to increase global awareness of the condition, including its causes, risk factors, signs/symptoms and evidence-based prevention and treatment.

A key message from this year’s organisers is that most blood clots can be prevented by following some simple steps.

With more and more people working remotely during the Covid-19 crisis, homeworkers have been urged to take hourly walk breaks and to ensure they have plenty of room under their desk to stretch out the legs.

They have also been advised to multi-task and exercise the legs while sitting by raising and lowering both heels while keeping the toes on the floor, raising and lowering the toes while keeping your heels on the floor, and tightening and releasing the leg muscles.

Staying hydrated is also highly recommended because dehydration causes blood vessels to narrow and blood to thicken, raising the risk for blood clots.

See next Irish Medical Times issue on Friday November 6 for feature article.

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