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Eight Hour Coding Session Causes DVT 147

NickFitz writes "The BBC reports that a UK programmer collapsed with Deep Vein Thrombosis after an eight hour programming session. The potentially life-threatening condition is more commonly seen in air passengers on long haul flights, but this should serve as a warning to many Slashdot readers (including me) that screen breaks aren't just for resting the eyes."
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Eight Hour Coding Session Causes DVT

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  • by .sig ( 180877 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:22AM (#15293961)
    I'm waiting for the study of what happens if you check email for 2 hours, code for 30 minutes, surf the web for another hour or so, code for another hour, check email again, then sneak out early.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:22AM (#15293967)
    You know, I've found there are ways to get your blood flowing to that "deep vein" without even getting up from your chair. Thank you, T1 and 21 inch monitor!
  • This, right after I had an 8 hour long coding session yesterday night for a team project.... We may have slacked of a bit and sucked life out of vending machines... But still would have been good to know....
  • Faceplant (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:30AM (#15294053)
    "I had absolutely no warning symptoms and I had no idea there was anything wrong at all," he said.

    "I was sat at my desk and suddenly I was hit with the most excruciating pain in my lower back, I collapsed at the desk with my head on the keyboard, the pain was just so severe."


    Collapsed with his head on the keyboard? No wonder he won the Obfuscated C Contest.

    {for(x=A[1],i=calloc(strlen(x)+2,163840);
    C-1;C3?Q=_= 0,(z[1]=*x++)?((*x++==104?z[1]^=32:--x)
    • I've heard that diebold is sueing for unauthorized use of the code that was produced by smashing his head into the keyboard... :-)
  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pclminion ( 145572 )
    They make it sounds like an "8 hour coding session" is some kind of monstrous abuse of your body. Uhhh... Don't many of us do this EVERY DAY? Just get out of the damn chair every once in a while! Was this guy pissing in a bottle or something?
    • My Tourette's Syndrome usually starts acting up after 8 hours....
    • DVTs occur anytime you're mostly immobile for a long period of time. This is especially true for people on long intercontinental flights.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Informative)

      by limekiller4 ( 451497 )
      pclminion writes:
      "They make it sounds like an "8 hour coding session" is some kind of monstrous abuse of your body. Uhhh... Don't many of us do this EVERY DAY? Just get out of the damn chair every once in a while! Was this guy pissing in a bottle or something?"

      This is ignorance of the dangerous variety. You can get DVT just by sitting in a cramped position for an hour or two. In fact it's more popularly known as Second Class Syndrome.

      I'm going to assume that the Second Class passengers don't piss in bottl
      • Despite the fact that my post has inexplicably been modded Informative (when pretty much everything I said was phrased as a question), I was not trying to inform anybody of anything in particular. From your post it sounds like you've suffered DVT even though you thought you were doing things right. THAT'S informative.
        • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Informative)

          by limekiller4 ( 451497 )
          pclminion writes:
          "From your post it sounds like you've suffered DVT even though you thought you were doing things right. THAT'S informative."

          Not really. I was getting up to get drinks, take a leak, etc. But no set times and no real plan. Again, it can hit you with just one cramped session.

          Now I ALWAYS walk around and stretch a great deal if the part of my leg than hangs over the seat feels pinched at ALL.

          • if part of your leg hangs over the chair you need to adjust your chair, or get a new one if it already as low as it will go.

            the chair should be just the right height that you legs go straight out then down to feet flat on the floor as if you were standing.
    • 1) Obviously, it is a relatively rare fatality, or we would have seen this occuring frequently enough pre-PC age to have made note of it. Accountants and lawyers have done similar marathon sessions sitting down; its not unique to the programmer profession. (It makes me wonder how many Karoshi [wikipedia.org] deaths occurred in this manner.)

      2) Some people, such as myself, have pretty damn retentive bladders. Even after knocking off a six-pack, I don't have to immediately run to releive myself. Sometimes, I can realize t
      • Did you accidentally reply to somebody else's comment in the wrong thread? I'm utterly baffled at how my comment in any way implied the things you seem to think it implied.

        Did I not say: "Just get out of the damn chair every once in a while?" I was merely expressing shock that this person sat still in a chair for an *8 hour period*. Somehow you've inferred from this that I am a brown-nosing chair dweller? Seriously, what drugs are you taking?

    • Was this guy pissing in a bottle or something?

      Eight hours without going isn't difficult...
  • ...take a break now and then, grab a coffee, walk around. Will do your body and mind a world of good. Chances are you'll come back feeling refreshed and working better than you would be on a non-stop session.
    • Second that.

      I wrote a piece of Health and Safety assessment software for my company a while ago and one of the questions which every person was obliged to answer is what is the longest continuous daily period he/she sits in front of the computer. Any entries above 45 mins were set to be flagged to the attention of HR and Health and Safety.

      As a matter of fact, while this is not enshrined in UK law this is what the current Health and Safety guidelines say and the person (if he is still alive) or his estate ha
      • Though frankly, this is a classic case of Darwin Award. He/she did it to themselves and they deserve what they got.

        What about the person who has a crappy job where they are not allowed to leave their workstation without a manager's permission. There are still plenty of companies that treat their employees like serfs.

        • As a matter of fact, while this is not enshrined in UK law this is what the current Health and Safety guidelines say and the person (if he is still alive) or his estate have a very fair chance of lodging a successfull lawsuit against his company under the UK Health and Safety act.
        • Read my previous post.

          Current HS guidelines in the UK are that you should take at least one 5 minute break every 45 minutes. This is not enshrined in law so a company may push a bit more than that but not by much. If a local arsehole suffering from a resurgence of ancestral slave trading genes is overstepping the line all it takes is for someone to write a letter to the local HS executive and watch the show unfold.

          This is one part of UK law on which the companies nearly universally lose in court. To make th
        • That person is an idiot and should quit. No one deserves to be treated that way. Putting up with it by staying is giving management the OK to continue operating that way.

          I've yet to be in any company that operated in such a manner, and certainly wouldn't stay if I was foolish enough to take the job in the first place.
    • More commonly known as "the Wally Therapy"
  • ...to hear that this happed to someone who played WoW for 12 hours.

    And then some jackass sues Blizzard...

    • Almost (Score:4, Informative)

      by dereference ( 875531 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:44AM (#15294197)
      ...to hear that this happed to someone who played WoW for 12 hours.

      There's a related story about an otherwise healthy teenager developing DVT after only 10 hours [bbc.co.uk] playing on a game console.

      No word on any lawsuit, but the doctor is quoted as saying "However, it doesn't mean that the government should be putting health warnings on Playstations."

      • No, they should be putting them on chairs!!!
      • There's a related story about an otherwise healthy teenager developing DVT after only 10 hours [bbc.co.uk] playing on a game console.

        I'm old enough to have teenage kids, and young enough to remember being one myself, and one of the things about teenage boys is the way they typically sit, or rather sprawl.

        This kind of thing makes me think they're on to something. I've never been one to make a big deal about "sitting properly" (although posture is another matter!) and now I'm thinking I should be positively
    • And then WoW is shut down by the court... Just imagine the jump in productivity the world would experience!
    • Didn't a Taiwanese gamer die on a 3-day gaming WoW session?
  • Here in the UK you legally get (at least) an hour break for an eight hour shift. If this guy wasn't using it, that's IMO his own fault for getting problems. You should always take what breaks you have, not only for obvious health reasons, but also because the more you do for people the more they expect from you.
    • If you'd RTFA, you'd realise this guy was working from his home, so there is no such legal requirement. It's up to him to set his own hours. I agree though, it's stupid to sit there for 8 hours, every day, without any significant break.
    • by eln ( 21727 )
      Around here the law requires two 15 minute breaks and 30 minutes for lunch for each 8 hour shift. That's the minimum though, and I don't know of any actual professional white collar job that doesn't allow at least an hour for lunch.

      Yes, breaks are important. Personally, if I don't get up and stretch at least once every couple of hours I feel stiff and uncomfortable, which tends to break my concentration anyway.
  • Prevention of DVTs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:40AM (#15294154)
    The 3 major risk factors for a DVT are:

    1) Venous Stasis. (Usually caused by not moving your legs/walking for hours at a time, such as in a long car/plane ride, or I guess 8hr. coding sessions)
    2) Hypercoaguable state (Usually a predisposition to increased likelihood of clood clotting, such as being pregnant, having cancer, being on estrogen, smoking, certain genetic defects, etc.)
    3) Injury to the leg.

    So #1 was in play, but if he had risk factors such as #2 or #3, that would have makedly increased his risk for a DVT.

    Ironically, he could have prevented venous stasis by a simple method such as this every 1-2 hours...
    http://www.ntk.net/media/developers.mpg [ntk.net]
    • So #1 was in play, but if he had risk factors such as #2 or #3, that would have makedly increased his risk for a DVT.

      How dare you not toe the Slashdot line about sedentary geeks destroying their bodies (with a gleeful sense of self-debasement)?
      ;-)


      Kudos on making a very good point that everyone else seems to have overlooked - Prolonged sitting factors into such problems, but rarely causes them in isolation.

      For a simple proof-of-concept, why don't we constantly hear about paraplegics dying of DVT? (a
    • Continuously bouncing your knees up and down (as I seem to do all the time) should prevent thrombosis. Might also give a bit of excercise.
      • Heh. I do that too. Make's my wife hit me, when we're sitting together...Now I have a good excuse!

        "But dear, if I stop doing this I may get DVT, and be in excrutiating pain, and on blood thinners for the rest of my life!"
    • The old Slashdot stereotype of being male and geeky would rule out the possibility of the coder being female and on birth control like the patch or pill providing elevated estrogen.
  • Is this not obvious? It may be interesting to know what position he sits in...I work/code with my feet up on the desk which, while more comfortable, puts a lot more weight/pressure on my tailbone region...I imagine DVT would set in much quicker in this position as opposed to the traditional feet-on-the-floor position.
  • by infojunkie ( 96487 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @12:04PM (#15294379)
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/01/29/043425 4 [slashdot.org]

    These were my comments:
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=52201&cid=5180 099 [slashdot.org]

    That said, I still suffer from blood clots and have been taking warfarin for over 3 years now. I can say with some certainty that if he got a clot after sitting for eight hours, it actually only revealed itself then. He's been clotting for a while.

    I'm more active now, cycling minimum 100km a week and lots of walking at work and at home... but I still sit for many hours.

    I recommend to anyone who works as I do, even with breaks and regualr exercise, watch yourself. Not to be an alarmist but be wary of any pain or inflammation in your calves and thighs. The alternative just ain't worth not taking precautions.
  • .. from sitting on my butt so much... my spine is becoming twisty bread and I am now seeing a chiropractor. Yes I know that chiropractors are supposed to be bad for your back or can be, but its helped me a lot. If you get the right one they can help.

    My suggestion, is that you exercise or do yoga or something other than coding. Also take breaks every 45 minutes and get up and move around. It will also help with CTS.

    • Re:back pain (Score:3, Informative)

      by greg1104 ( 461138 )
      I've found some relief from Chiropractic care as well, with a competant and honest practictioner found via a personal referral from a friend. I've seen multiple shady guys practicing as well, but agree that if you find a good one they can provide substantial relief from some types of back and neck pain (I had a fair amount of both, resulting from bad posture while at my PC and reading with my head in a bad position).

      The main problem I have with their approach is that it corrects the symptoms without addres
      • Yes, do see a doctor before a chiropractor. I went to my doctor first. He sent me to a physical therapist and then for X-rays and an MRI ( ouch that was expensive ). Then as a last resort he sent me to a chiropractor / physical therapist / massage therapist. Yes one person that does them all. So she knows something about this, and has helped me out. I'd totally agree, see your doctor about back pain or any other pain first, then let them refer you to the other doctors. It may be expensive, but it's y
  • by miruku ( 642921 )
    Now Mr Simmons, 42, is calling on other desk-bound workers to get up and move around to cut the risk of DVT.

    like, duh..
  • Eight hours straight in a chair? I can't go more then a hour without having to go potty. The guy must have a bladder the size of a basketball.
  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) * <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @01:07PM (#15294988) Homepage Journal

    Not funny, but not a great hassle either. I have to get my blood tested every three or four weeks, and get my warfarin dose adjusted. It's a nuisance when I fall off my bike, because I tend to bleed a lot.

    I'm supposed to get up and move about fairly regularly during the day, and mostly I remember to do that. And I do need to take regular exercise (which is why I cycle a lot). But it's something you can live with. I don't like having to take warfarin, but it isn't the end of the world.

  • Got It (Score:5, Informative)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @01:09PM (#15295007) Homepage
    Long story short, I used to spend long hours in a NOC (like half the people reading this). After one particularly long day of work with little stretch-time, I was walking home and boom, felt like I had a crack in my pelvis. A hospital visit revealed DVT.

    A week of self-administered heparin (sp?) injections, three months of warfarin/coumadin with bi-weekly pt/inr blood tests (to adjust the coumadin dosage) and the lifelong worry that it'll act up again. I've had it reappear three times so far though I've been able to keep out of the hospital.

    And it can definitely kill you. If a clot travels to the lungs or your heart you're in for a rough time. David Bloom, a reporter in Iraq, (somewhat) recently died [usatoday.com] from DVT due to sitting in a cramped M88 for days, hours at a time.

    I guess what I'm saying is trust me, get up and walk around every hour or so. DVT blows.

    • Similar Situation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by umbrellasd ( 876984 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:04PM (#15296129)
      Do taichi in the NOC every hour or so. Takes up really little space. It's really low-key exercise, so people don't wig out and you don't have to work up a sweat. You can learn the shortform in a couple months and it takes about 5-7 minutes to go through it.

      After a few months, you won't need drugs and you won't have to worry about DVT. And you'll end up really good at it, :-). Anyway, I have a similar job and that was the most economical solution that I found.

  • by Dr. GeneMachine ( 720233 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @01:28PM (#15295183)
    That is why you get up once per hour to go outside and get a smoke.
  • what I do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wise Dragon ( 71071 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @01:33PM (#15295234) Homepage
    I have a nervous habit. When I'm sitting, I'm constantly shaking my legs. Restless leg syndrome I think they call it. Anyway, I'm willing to bet this habit prevents me from getting a DVT by keeping my legs moving. YMMV.
    • Re:what I do (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alienmole ( 15522 )
      Repetitive leg motion while sitting doesn't necessarily mean restless leg syndrome. It's much more likely to be an ADD/ADHD symptom - the motion is a way to calm yourself and keep yourself focused. (Try consciously stopping the motion and see what effect it has on your ability to focus on what you're working on.) There are also other conditions that can lead to such motion, which have to do with nervous tension as opposed to restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome is when people feel an uncomfortab
  • Just three words (Score:4, Informative)

    by leob ( 154345 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @02:21PM (#15295701)
    Drink. More. Water.
  • by GroovyTrucker ( 917003 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:32PM (#15296866)
    Go to http://www.preventdvt.org/ [preventdvt.org]

    Speaking out of experience...Long haul driver...Undiagnosed DVT that moved to my lung...Called a Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

    5 days in hospital on Heparin with little or no movement allowed, because the clot could move to your heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke/aneurysm); one year on Coumadin (warfarin, btw is also a rat poison) with twice-weekly to monthly prothrombin checks to guarantee no wild swings (too much clotting vs hemophiliac-like bleeding); and, up until recently, aspirin regimen to decrease normal clotting once I was taken off the Coumadin.

    I say up until recently because now, after being off Coumadin for 2-1/2 years I now have venous stasis in my other leg - I knew the symptoms of pre-DVT. Now currently taking Plavix and am getting compression stockings. I seem to be too good at sitting at my job!

    Important to know: Once you get it once you are at a very high risk for getting it again!

  • Each day I sit down at 7:30am and then get up at 4:30pm. I never suffer from aches or pains because I do not remain in one position for any length of time. Simply bending and straightening your legs while coding is sufficient to promote the flow of blood.

    Even wiggling your toes increases blood flow.

    Looking at certain images on the net can increase blood flow (but to other parts of the body).
  • Why don't you just apt-get install workrave [workrave.org]?

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