Pulmonary Embolism Have you heard of the 20-year-old Game Design student from the Leicester University who died after sitting in the same position for long hours each day? The culprit is said to be Pulmonary Embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs. This blood clot usually starts from the legs and this condition is called Deep Vein Thrombosis, or Deep Venous Thrombosis.
Venous Thrombosis: Common Among Video Gamers
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins in the lower legs, thigh or pelvis. The clot hinders the blood from circulating from the lower body to the heart. This blockage causes swelling and pain in the leg and can lead to inflammation or irritation called Thrombophlebitis.
When the clot (DVT) breaks loose, it travels to the mainstream, usually causing another blockage this time in the blood vessels of the lungs or the pulmonary arteries. This condition is Pulmonary Embolism and it can result in extreme difficulty in breathing. For some, it's fatal.
More than 2 million people develop this condition every year in the United States alone. Most of the patients are over 40 years old. About 600,000 of these cases are admitted to hospitals for treatment while 650,000 die from the complication of pulmonary embolism, getting it to the third rank on the list of most common causes of death in the country.
There are various conditions that can lead to the blood clot formation:
- One is damage to the blood vessel after a trauma or another medical condition.
- Two is alteration of normal blood flow such as partial or complete blood flow blockage or abnormal turbulence.
- Three is hypercoagulability or the nature of the blood to clot more than usual.
The first two factors are common while the last one is very rare.
Risk factors include:
- prolonged sitting such as during flight, road trip, and video-game playing
- prolonged bed rest
- recent surgery
- recent trauma to the lower body such as bone fractures in the lower leg, hip or thigh
Other factors that make you more susceptible to DVT are:
- heart attack
- heart failure
- recent childbirth
- being at extremely high altitude such as more than 14,000 feet
- use of estrogen replacement or birth control pills
- genetic factors that lead to blood clotting
Among these factors, prolonged sitting raises great concern since many video gamers lead sedentary lifestyles that make them stay in one position for long hours each day. Chris Stainforth, who died from playing the Xbox for many hours a day, suffered from DVT, which eventually led to pulmonary embolism.
This is very alarming since many children and adults are now addicted to video games, spending a great deal of their time in front of the computers and televisions to complete a mission or save someone in the virtual world.
It's very important for a gamer to take a break from playing the video game at least once every hour. Avoid sitting in the same position for long hours. For parents, it's a must to limit children's video game time down to one to two hours a day tops. Anything longer than that can jeopardize your kid's welfare. Having an active lifestyle is paramount to staying fit and healthy.
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.
Venous Thrombosis also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is defined as a blood clot or thrombus which occurs in a deep vein. This usually occurs in the legs. Blood clots accompanied with inflammation in the superficial veins do not usually cause serious problems. However, the blood clots in the deep veins require an immediate medical action.
The blood clots in the deep vein are deemed dangerous because these can break loose from the vein, travel through the person's bloodstream towards the lungs and block blood flow in that specific body organ. This condition is called pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is oftentimes life-threatening. Aside from embolism, DVT can also lead to other long-lasting health problems. It can damage the vein and cause pain in the leg. It can also make the leg swell and change in color. After many years of having DVT, leg sores may also appear. Blood clots develop in the calf and thigh veins, but it can also occur in the arm or pelvic veins.
How Do Deep Vein Clots Form?
Being inactive can lead to the formation of blood clots in veins. Injury or a surgery that has damaged your blood vessels can also cause clots to form. Also, cancer can cause venous thrombosis.
Can DVT have Symptoms?
Usually, venous thrombosis is indicated by swelling of the affected leg. In addition, the leg may look redder than the other leg and it may feel warmer. When you touch or squeeze the calf or thigh or when you stand or move, you will feel pain or tenderness. The pain that you experience may last long and it may also get worse over time. In some cases, pulmonary embolism is the first sign of DVT. But if the blood clot is small, it may not show any symptom at all.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Venous Thrombosis?
Doctors usually advise their patients suspected of having venous thrombosis to undergo an ultrasound test in order to check the blood flow through the veins and find the locations of blood clots. Anther test used to diagnose venous thrombosis is venogram. Venogram is an x-ray test which can take pictures of the blood flow through the patient's veins.
Is There any Cure For DVT?
The treatment starts by reducing the blood clot in order to prevent clots that might break loose and reach the patient's lungs. Another way to treat DVT is by having the patient take blood thinners or anticoagulants like heparin or warfarin. These blood thinners must be taken regularly for at least three months to prevent the growth of existing blood clots. Blood tests are also frequently done to check how well the blood thinners are working. Doctors may also advise the patient to elevate the leg affected with DVT. Walking and wearing compression stockings can also help to reduce the swelling and the pain.
Many parents have grown concerned over the fact that children are playing too much video games to the extent that the habit can be considered an addition. Extensive research has been done on this matter since it was introduced in 1970s to find out the effects of these games on children.
Video Games, which come in a vast array of forms including sports, fantasy, violence, educational, general entertainment, trivia and so many more, have become a subject of both criticism and praise from parents, educators and child psychologists. Below, we take a look at both the positive and negative effects of video games on children and their health.
Positive Effects of Video Games
Video games that are educational in nature have been proven beneficial for children. These games, which provide a combination of entertainment and education, help in developing children's perceptual, cognitive and motor skills. Studies reveal that educational video games like word games, puzzles, trivia, and problem solving activities stimulate the imagination, creativity, logical thinking, and various mental faculties.
These also improve kids' hand-to-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial awareness, among others. And because these games are interactive, a child doesn't just sit there passively absorbing information but he/she partakes in the activity and that provides intellectual stimulation.
Negative Effects of Video Games
While above information suggests that video games have certain advantages, it is also important to study about their negative repercussions to children. Video games that involve violence are linked to aggressive behavior in some children. Playing games that have to do with a lot of killing and shooting has been found to increase emotional anger and aggressive behavior in little ones. It also instills the negative notion that killing or beating another person equates to triumph.
Apart from that, there is also the tendency for children to become addicted to video games. Some would forgo doing household chores, playing outside or accomplishing homework because they would rather sit in front of the computer to play games. This eventually results in inferior academic performance as well as poor studying habits.
In terms of physical health, because children would rather stay inside the house to play for a long time than to go outside to engage in physical activities, video games have also been proven to have negative effects on children's physical health. Sitting in front of the computer for many hours each day increases risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, obesity, postural disorders, muscular diseases and skeletal problems. In severe cases, video games can also contribute to high blood pressure and increased heart rate.
Knowing the positive side of video games lets you know that it's not something that you have to ban completely. Proper guidance and correct choices on games can do so much in maximizing the benefits and reducing the drawbacks. Make sure that you choose educational games over violent ones and that you limit your child's video game playing time so that he/she would be able to do other things that are beneficial to his/her physical and mental health.