Meanwhile, in another corner of the far-flung Internet universe, there was a portent of a different kind last week. A dismal portent this time, although not one that is likely to bother the fit climbers dropping into the Mount Everest cybercafe to send a few e-mails. According to a British science magazine, people who spend many hours a day sitting in front of a computer run the risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis, the sometimes fatal blood clots that have also been associated with sitting for long hours in an airplane or prolonged immobility after surgery.
A New Zealand medical research team came up with a new term for this kind of clot — eThrombosis — after treating a 32-year-old man who had developed a swollen calf and then, a few weeks later, suddenly lost consciousness. The cause? A massive blood clot had formed in the man’s leg and traveled up to his lungs. What intrigued the researchers was the fact that the man had none of the usual risk factors for clots — obesity, smoking and heart disease — but he did work 12 hours a day at his computer and often would not stand up for hours at a time. They felt that the link between the man’s sedentary work habits and his life-threatening clot was strong enough to prompt a review of all the patients admitted to New Zealand hospitals with pulmonary embolisms.
And it took a team of researchers to figure this out? There are times when simple common sense arrives at an obvious conclusion faster than science does, and this is one of them. Our mothers always told us it wasn’t a good idea to sit around for hours on end, whether it was at a desk, on a plane or in front of the television. In the case of the link between air travel and deep-vein thrombosis, one can understand the reluctance of the courts to give absolute credence to a theory that is likely to open the door to frivolous, time-consuming lawsuits. But if you are a chair-bound computer addict, you don’t need to wait for a final verdict on eThrombosis. Get up now and run, don’t walk, to the nearest door. Your whole body will thank you.
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