How big is the DVT risk, really?

Although a new study says that sedentary workers double their risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it's difficult to gauge the true risk of DVT, according to Monika Fischer, MN, RN, APRN BC, CCM, COHN-S, FAAOHN, health services administrator for the City of Glendale, CA. For one thing, Fischer points to the "extremely small sample size" in the study and other confounding factors.1

"These people could have co-morbidities that increased their risk, as well as significant family history," says Fischer. "Further, more in-depth studies need to be done before any company will start to think this is a serious enough problem to address it with special programs."

Fischer also points to the 612 million people flying each year who average about 1,046 miles per trip. "So let's say that we took a quarter of them and said they went on 'long-haul flights,' — that would end up with about 32 million cases of DVT, a much more significant number," she says.

Fischer also notes that only about 21% of the total workforce work in sedentary jobs. "And I would imagine many of them require that they move around regularly throughout the day," she says. "I do concede that people like dispatchers have problems."

Fisher says that the City of Glendale has done extensive ergonomic evaluation on all police and fire dispatchers and made extensive changes. "Hi/lo" desks are provided that move up and down on hydraulics. Employees can stand or sit while working, and booklets on exercises to do while seated were distributed.

"We haven't had a significant population with problems," says Fischer. "And since I have been here, we have never had a dispatcher with a DVT."


  1. West J, Perrin K, Aldington S, et al. A case–control study of seated immobility at work as a risk factor for venous thromboembolism. J Royal Med Soc 2008; 101:237-243.