DVT Risk at the Office

Sitting at your desk for hours at a time could double your risk for dangerous blood clots. Learn how to prevent deep vein thrombosis and ease varicose veins.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms deep in the veins, usually in the lower leg or thigh. Sometimes these clots can break off and travel up through the bloodstream arriving at the lungs causing pulmonary embolism (PE).

We first heard about DVT when it was dubbed “economy-class syndrome,” in connection to the cramped legroom when flying economy.

But new research from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand found that office workers who sit for eight hours days are also at risk for DVT. In fact, sitting for three hours without some kind of activity more then doubles your risk.

It can be hard to keep active if you have an office job, but little changes can make a big difference. Study author Professor Richard Beasley recommends workers get up from their desk at least every hour and move their feet from time to time while seated.

Varicose Veins Connection

Most varicose veins are harmless but in some people they develop into a condition called superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) where the vein becomes hard, painful and often inflamed. Most doctors believed that like varicose veins SVTs shouldn’t be ignored. However, a new study conducted by Dr. Barbara Binder at the Medical University of Graz, Austria and published in the Archives of Dermatology showed that many people with SVTs were also suffering from an unknown DVT.

“Superficial vein thrombosis is not a life-threatening disease, but the risk of concomitant DVT cannot be ignored,” Dr. Binder wrote in her report.

DVT Symptoms

According to the American Heart Lung and Blood Institute, only half of people with DVT have symptoms. Consult your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg.
  • Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking.
  • Increased warmth in the area of the leg that’s swollen or in pain.
  • Red or discoloured skin on the leg

Danger of Pulmonary Embolism

What makes DVT so dangerous is that many people don’t know they have the condition until it develops into a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot to the lung. PE is a life threatening condtion. Consult your doctor immediately is you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Pain with deep breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rapid breathing and a fast heart rate


Treatment for DVT is usually a blood thinner and anticoagulants. These medications won’t dissolve blood clots but can prevent any new ones from forming. Your doctor may also suggest you start wearing graduated compression stockings to reduce swelling after a blood clot has developed. 


As with most conditions, prevention is the best medicine. You can stop varicose veins and SVT  from developing into something more serious and lower your risk of DVT by following these simple suggestions:

  • Stand up from your desk at least once an hour-walk to the kitchen, pop out for a coffee or take the stairs to the floor above you and back.
  • Walk over to talk to a colleague rather than send an email.
  • Better still, go for a quick walk with your colleague while you talk.
  • While seated, regularly circle your feet in both directions and stretch your hands, arms and torso.
  • Move your legs and flex and stretch your feet to encourage blood flow in your calves.
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol.
  • The anti-varicose diet, rich in fibre, flavonoids, Vitamin C and antioxidants, can reduce inflammation  and improve criculation.

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