When we think of occupational hazards, obvious dangers like heights and heavy machinery often come to mind. Yet, seemingly safer activities like long periods of sitting or standing at work could also be risky for your health. Here’s what you should know about job-related factors and vascular health.
What Are Some Occupational Hazards that Impact Vascular Health?
Many people with desk jobs face long periods of sitting each day. Although sitting doesn’t seem inherently dangerous compared to activities like working with electricity or power tools, it does present serious health hazards that shouldn’t be overlooked.
For example, one study from New Zealand shows that employees who are mostly immobile at their desks have a 2.8-fold higher risk of a specific type of blood clot known as venous thromboembolism, compared to peers who move around more at work.
The same research indicates that people with managerial or professional roles were most likely to experience blood clots compared to people with more active roles, such as trade workers. And, the longer you stay sedentary the more dangerous it becomes, with the risk of blood clots increasing up to 10% for each hour of sitting.
But it’s not just office workers who are at risk of blood clots: people who spend a lot of time on their feet at work may also experience vascular issues. As with sitting, prolonged or frequent standing in one place can also cause blood to pool in the legs, potentially leading to varicose veins. Medical workers, teachers, construction workers, landscapers, and other workers who spend a lot of time on their feet could face a higher risk of these venous issues.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Blood Vessels at Work?
The good news is you don’t have to switch career paths to keep your veins healthy. Whether your job involves long periods of sitting, standing, or both, you can follow these steps to prevent issues like varicose veins and blood clots.
Program your phone, watch, or another reminder system to alert you at least once an hour to take a break. If you’ve been seated for a while, stand up and take a short walk. If you’ve been on your feet, take a few minutes to sit.
Dehydration makes your blood thicker and more sluggish, which can slow circulation. Staying hydrated can promote strong blood flow. Be sure to sip plenty of water before, during, and after work.
Compression stockings put gentle pressure on the lower legs to encourage blood to travel back upwards after circulating through your feet. They can help reduce discomfort and leg swelling, and may prevent noticeable varicose veins from developing.
Putting your feet up at the end of a long work day doesn’t just feel good. It can also help to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a serious type of blood clot, while also alleviating swelling and improving circulation. Keep your feet above your heart and lie with a slight bend at the knee. If possible, take several 20- to 30-minute breaks with your feet up throughout the day.
Venous diseases can develop in anyone. If you have a condition such as chronic venous insufficiency or varicose veins, or are concerned your work routine may contribute to them, turn to Vascular Surgical Associates. Our vein experts offer a wide range of treatments catered to each patient’s specific needs. Request an appointment online or by calling 770-423-0595.