Heart Attack Risks: Long Hours of Sitting Can Increase Heart Attack
Frequent fliers spend hours crouched in an airplane seat, hooked to a book or a video, only to emerge and stand upright when the plane hits the ground. The same situation applies to long distance train and bus travellers or if you go on a trip in your car. So, it is imperative to move around frequently and avoid sitting for hours in your seat to prevent blood clots that can be dangerous and in some cases fatal.
“Sitting in the same position for hours can cause blood clots in the legs that can be fatal if not treated on time,: warns Dr. Anil Bansal, Interventional Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital.
DVT or deep vein thrombosis, as it is called, is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg or pelvis. Long hours of sitting can lead to such blood clots which when they break free from their initial position can travel through the bloodstream right up to the lungs where they become a pulmonary embolism.
A pulmonary embolism or PE is a blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream. This blockage that may cause obstruction of the blood flow or oxygen flow through the lungs can lead to a heart attack.
Why the link between long travel hours and blood clots?
“If your body or any part of it is deprived of movement for a long time, this inhibits blood circulation. If blood collects at one place in the legs, the platelets tend to stick to each other, forming a clot," explains Dr Bansal.
In a research released in 2007, World Health Organization (WHO) that examined the Global Hazards of Travel, found that the risk of developing clots approximately doubles if you trip last four hours or more.
Tips to follow when you are travelling for long hours:
- When travelling, make it a routine to carry on with up-and-down movements of the feet at the ankle joints. This encourages blood flow and prevents stagnation.
- Stand up from your seat and move about the flight every 30 minutes, or if you are driving on a long distance road trip, take frequent brakes.
- It is also important to keep yourself appropriately hydrated by drinking a lot of water.
- For people, who already have cardiac-related issues, they should always meet a doctor before travelling and make sure they carry their medicines along.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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