Can someone really die from long hours of playing video games? As it turns out, yes. Chris Staniforth, a 20-year-old Game Design student from the Leicester University died recently from pulmonary embolism. It's not directly caused by playing video games. Instead, it occurs after sitting in the same position for long hours, something most video game players are guilty of.
What is Pulmonary Embolism?
Pulmonary Embolism (PE) refers to the sudden clog in a lung artery that is typically caused by a blood clot from a vein in the leg. This serious condition can damage a part of the lung that is not reached by the blood flow due to the blockage. This can lead to pulmonary hypertension. Apart from that, it can also cause low levels of oxygen in the blood and damage to other organs.
A Large Clot or Multiple Clots Can Be Fatal
PE is often a complication of another condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). In this ailment, blood clots are formed in the deep veins of the body. These blood clots usually occur in the legs and then work their way up to travel to the lungs. This is when the lung blood clot happens.
According to health experts, children and teenagers who spend long hours in front of the computer playing games are at high risk of pulmonary embolism. Staniforth's father David reported that his son would play his Xbox 12 hours each day, staying late up at night in front of the gaming console. He didn't even recognize that he already had a blood clot in his leg, which traveled through the bloodstream to his lung, clogging one of the major blood vessels of his lung.
So How Do You Know If You're In Danger Of Pulmonary Embolism?
- sudden shortness of breath
- sharp chest pain that worsens upon coughing or deep breathing
- pink foamy mucus
- excessive sweating
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's a must to see a doctor immediately.
What Are the Risk Factors?
As mentioned, long hours of sitting in the same position without taking any break is one of the major causes of PE. But some factors make you more vulnerable to condition than others. These include:
- sedentary lifestyle
- recent surgery of the legs, hips, belly or brain
- medical conditions such as heart failure, cancer, stroke, or severe infection
- pregnancy and childbirth (more so for women who delivered via cesarean section)
- taking of birth control pills
- hormone therapy
- age; people who are older than 70 are more prone to pulmonary embolism.
Can It Be Prevented?
Yes, it can.
- Having an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to help ensure that you are not victimized by this disease.
- Also, avoid sitting for long periods. Take a break whenever you can and walk around, at least every hour.
- Keep yourself hydrated and limit intake of coffee and alcohol.
- Moreover, set a limit to video game time. Children shouldn't be allowed more than two hours of video games every day according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Those younger than 2 years old shouldn't be allowed to play at all.
David Staniforth is now on a campaign to raise awareness about deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and the role of computer games and sedentary lifestyle in the occurrence of these lethal health problems.