Protect yourself from eThrombosis
Sitting in front of a screen for hours can put you at risk of blood clots, so make sure you stand up, stretch and get moving
As Singaporeans continue to spend more time on their electronic devices, the prolonged and excessive use of computers could trigger eThrombosis.
The term is used to describe venous thromboembolism (VTE), associated with immobility from sitting for hours on end in front of one's screens, like watching television on streaming media services or playing video games.
These people may face the risk of VTE, which occurs when an abnormal blood clot forms within a deep vein of the patient's lower limbs (known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT).
The clot can easily travel to the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism) if it is left unnoticed and untreated. This can prove to be fatal as it restricts blood supply to the lungs.
But prolonged immobilisation can easily be prevented by periodically getting up from a sitting position to exercise and move around.
In situations where walking or moving is restricted, such as in an aeroplane, simple leg and foot exercises can be done while seated to aid circulation of blood in the legs.
Sunday marks World Thrombosis Day, and The New Paper spoke to Associate Professor Lee Lai Heng from Singapore General Hospital's department of haematology on raising awareness of VTE.
What are the risk factors of VTE?
They include increasing age, immobilisation (from prolonged bed rest, post-surgery and paralysis), cancer and anti-cancer drugs, pregnancy, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement treatment, and obesity.
Medical disorders can also be risk factors, such as antiphospholipid syndrome (an autoimmune disorder), vasculitis (an inflammation of the blood vessels), autoimmune diseases, nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disorder), myeloproliferative diseases (a group of slow-growing blood cancers) and paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (a rare blood condition).
Some people may have genetic or hereditary factors predisposing them to VTE, for example, antithrombin deficiency, protein S deficiency and protein C deficiency. Conditions such as Factor V Leiden and prothrombin gene mutations are more common in Caucasians but are rare among Asians.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Pain, redness and swelling of the lower limbs, and sometimes fever.
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include breathlessness, chest pain, palpitation and coughing up blood, and when the condition turns more severe, hypoxia , hypotension , loss of consciousness and death.
The signs and symptoms of DVT and pulmonary embolism are not specific as other conditions can have them .
For instance, cellulitis can have similar signs as DVT; while heart conditions and chest infections can show same symptoms as pulmonary embolism.
How can DVT be prevented from forming?
It can done through early mobilisation after surgery and illness. But in certain high-risk conditions such as post-major orthopaedic surgery or cancer surgery, medications such as blood thinners can be used for prevention.
Or if there is a high risk of bleeding with blood thinning medications, compression stockings, and calf and leg pumps may be used to aid blood circulation to prevent stasis, reducing the chances of VTE developing.