For many people who work on their feet all day, coming home and resting is the only thing on their minds. Going for a walk or heading to the gym seems like the last thing that should be done to their aching legs and feet. For others, simply sitting on a couch and watching TV is comfortable.
While most know its common sense that an inactive or sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy, recent studies are pointing out that another problem it can create are embolisms in the lungs.
Embolisms are blockages or clots that occur in the body. They are classified into two groups; clots that occur in the veins, and clots that occur in the arteries. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital were primarily interested in arterial embolisms that start as clots in the legs, and the researchers are indicating that a sedentary lifestyle can create these clots.
Once the clots are created in the leg arteries, they travel through the blood and make their way to the lungs, also known as pulmonary embolisms. Symptoms of pulmonary embolisms include pain appearing in the chest, problems with breathing and repeated coughing.
Pulmonary embolisms are a serious matter because they can be fatal.
Inactivity or the Sedentary Lifestyle
Massachusetts General Hospital did a study on close to 70,000 female nurses. In 1988, the researchers asked the nurses about the activities they carried out at work, and what they did with their free time after they were done. They repeated the same questions again 2 years later, in 1990. The researchers were interested in how inactive they were away from work, which was defined as how long they sat still.
The researchers continued questioning the nurses through 2008.
They found that if a nurse came home and sat around for 6 hours or more everyday, her chances of developing pulmonary thrombosis had doubled, in comparison to those that only sat 2 hours every day.
The results were consistent after including other factors like their weight, age, and if they smoked.
The doctors concluded, “Physical inactivity is associated with incident pulmonary embolism in women.”
Dr. Douketis, one of the Boston doctors involved, also says, “Overall, the study reinforces the notion that prolonged inactivity increases the risk of [venous thromboembolism], and it shows how this occurs in everyday life.”
Other High Risk Groups
Not only are people living sedentary lifestyle at risk for pulmonary embolisms. Those that are on long-term bed rest or are spending an extended time at a hospital are a high-risk group. In order to counter act this, they are often given blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
Individuals who have recently had hip or leg surgery are at risk for a pulmonary embolism. The more time a person has to spend on recovering from an injury or procedure, and the more damage they have sustained, the greater the risk for an embolism.
Certain people also inherit hereditary conditions that make it difficult for them to process a protein named “activated protein c.” This condition increases their risks of getting blood clots, which can travel to the lungs and become pulmonary embolisms.
Sedentary Lifestyle and Pulmonary Embolism: Nurse Study
Sedentary Lifestyle and Pulmonary Embolism: Inactivity Away From Work
Sedentary Lifestyle and Pulmonary Embolism: High Risk Groups
Sedentary Lifestyle and Pulmonary Embolism: Dangers of Being a Couch Potato