If you sit for many hours, like on a cross country or cross ocean flight, or because you are a dev or gamer with tremendous concentration and focus, the blood quite literally just sits in your legs and eventually starts to coagulate. It doesn't matter how much exercise you get the rest of your day, those 6 or 8 hours of sitting can quite literally kill you through the creation of a blood clot that then flows through your system and blocks blood flow to the heart or brain (all learned personally when I developed such a clot from routinely sitting long hours in a coffee shop with my laptop and 100% focus).
If you're like me and can focus easily for many hours straight, get a Fitbit, turn on activity tracking, and when it tells you you haven't walked around recently get up and walk around. It's much less impactful to your concentration than an emergency ER visit followed by a lifetime of prescription blood thinners to reduce the now much higher risk of a second clot.
Also, 14 consecutive hours? Did you literally not get up at all in that period? Did you have enough fluids and snacks nearby that you didn't have to?
Most are clinically silent. The ones that land you in an emergency room are dangerous.
A few years back, I was blinded in one eye by a retinal vein occlusion (basically a stroke in the retina). They're actually pretty common, affecting 5-10% of the population, but unless it crosses your macula, you'll probably never know it happened.
Eye issues terrify me and I'm not sure mental state could handle a retinal stroke. That sounds truly horrible.
Hooray for modern medicine! It saved my eye. When the occlusion first happened, my vision went from 20/20 to 20/500 in moments.
But if it gets the point of even minor persistent chest pain or one is aware that something is not right, it's time for the emergency room.
Chest pain is not to be trifled with. One clot may be followed by others which might be serious or fatal in a very short time.
PE is common enough among people that sit for a living (most of HN), that I think it's important for folks to be aware of them and that they're dangerous.
Any family history? Crazy how this happened from one 14 hour session or were you regularly doing this?
Not a great way to start a new job. Boss was meeting me at the airport thankfully and he drove me to the hospital to get checked out. A few weeks of an eye patch was the short term outcome and a bunch of new 'floaters' that my mind has mostly learned to filter out.
Just very grateful that it detonated in my eye instead of my brain...
But I have to wonder if the shrinking coach seat pitch/size isn't a big factor. I'm fairly average size, but flying is miserable these days.
Perhaps also the relative awkwardness of getting up while flying...the visible sighs from your row mates that have to move around a lot to let you pass.
Now I'm scared..
Maybe someone who actually knows can tell me whether I'm totally off-base here?
In other words, what you should really do is flail around wildly. As a bonus, this also slightly increases the heartrate of nearby coworkers.
The interdependencies in this bag of organs are an unbelievable mess.
Those new versions are creating by randomly selecting between files from two other installations.
I choose to look at it as incredible optimization instead.
As an otherwise healthy and fit adult male, my first symptom of my PE was a sharp stabbing pain in my chest when inhaling. Thinking I was having a heart attack, I self-admitted to the ER. I had 12 PEs in my lungs, and with ultrasound they found a 3" long deep vein thrombosis under my left knee. My left leg had absolutely no symptoms or pain. My PEs and DVT resolved with a 6-mo course of blood thinners, but I was lucky. PE mortality rate is around 15-20%.
Set your "stand up" timer for every 90 minutes and actually pay attention to it! And it wouldn't hurt to take a daily baby aspirin (probably should ask your doc first).
This is a really interesting point.
Most people have probably seen the debate around daily aspirin, which largely simplifies to "does the decreased clot risk outweigh the increased bleeding event risk?" The math tends to come out very close, but that's largely because the people at high risk of heart attack and stroke are also at elevated risk of bleeding events.
Programmers, heavy gamers, and other people who sit all day seem like they might break that parity; the raised clot risk is circumstantial, not biological, so they're not necessarily at elevated bleeding risk. Changing that circumstance is definitely the winning move, but I'd also love to see a study on how aspirin performs in those populations.
When I'm sitting in the afternoons it's easier to push myself and skip the nap, which actually results in worse productivity and me feeling worse the rest of the day. It's harder to skip a nap with a standing desk because it's harder to tolerate being sleepy when standing.
YMMV based on if afternoon power naps work for you or not.
In the past I've napped in my car. At one job they had a "multicultural room" that was basically an interior room with a comfortable chair. At another job (a startup that was collapsing) there was a couch in a vacant office on the same floor.
Note that I've many places did not provide standing desks.
I know I should take breaks, but never end up doing so - the desire to just keep sitting and working is too great. The reminders from Workrave have been effective at actually getting me to stand up and move around.
The only issue is that if you are sitting at your desk but not using the computer, it will detect you as taking a break.
Seems very interesting, if this project is any good (certainly looks like it is) I may just get one of the supported devices.
Plus as the ability to slouch is gone, I've got no incentive to stay seated and get up more often.
If you want to do squats go for it, but compression socks are passive & much harder to forget doing.
If you are sitting down for lunch & meetings during your work day it's probably not as much of a big deal.
I don't understand this way of solving problems.
Not sure how devices or privacy have anything to do with the problem.
When you could just set an alarm on your computer to get up and walk around in and hour or two.
The advantage of the device is that it doesn't interrupt you if you've already taken 250 steps that hour.
I take it you own a smartphone based on this previous comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19688327
Even if you don't own a smartphone, the loss of privacy to Fitbit is minimal, in my personal opinion. If you do own a smartphone, adding a Fitbit to the picture means an infinitesimal loss of privacy, too small to even be worth talking about. Fitbit has a financial incentive to keep your data private. Can you say that about every app on your phone?
It's so gross, I don't want to be part of it anymore.
So I think you're not going to change my mind about this.
Until we start saying no this can't happen anymore. It will keep on.
We are all culpable.
I was surprised that because of the height of the potential fall, we needed a "rescue plan". In other words: arresting the fall is only half the job.
The result was quite a bit of extra expense for us (because of the site conditions, we need to keep a hydraulic lift available), but when I read about how quickly suspension trauma becomes an issue, I could understand why the safety regulations are written as they are.
Obviously, some of that is a real difference in situation. Construction falls are unplanned and happen under all sorts of odd circumstances, and people are quite often injured during their falls. Climbers have someone managing the other end of their rope at all times, on a system that makes lowering them to the ground straightforward.
But other differences seem absolutely pointless. The "suspended by your groin, legs hanging straight down" posture of construction harnesses massively accelerates suspension trauma, while climbing harnesses pull the legs up and keep pressure on large muscles. And there are companies starting to use that design for safety gear, so it's not a regulatory issue - it just somehow took decades to cross the gap.
They are inexpensive, and the 10 seconds you spend feeding it above your harness can save your life. Tying a prusik is easy, and you should be able to do it in your sleep before even thinking about lead climbing outside of a gym. However...tying a Prusik with a fractured arm and bleeding head after a 15-50 foot lead climbing fall before you smack against the face is less-than-easy. In those situations, being able to grab the ascender with whichever hand/arm is not fractured, is far easier than starting a Prusik.
The newer generation of construction harnesses are still back-clipped and full-body though - a short strap runs from the waist to the back clip to redistribute weight without normally being in front of you. Presumably getting that working smoothly and safely was an extra engineering hurdle, but I'm still surprised harnesses went so long without even including waistbands.
(The clip is from "For Your Eyes Only" but has music from some other bond film dubbed over it)
Side note, one of my favorite ways to get up a rope when hanging in free space is to walk the rope. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAzXYVdskFE
Most people (outside of cavers) don't plan on climbing up a rope with single rope technique, so it's not something that is practiced very much. I'm not really sure why. I'd be super nervous as a climber if I only could go one way on a rope. I guess alpinists practice it some for self-rescue out of a crevasse.
Cavers use the rope as a nylon highway, so you know how to switch from rappel to climb, climb to rappel, and how to pick-off an injured party from the rope (all of those in space, where you can't take your weight off the rope at all).
Or are you saying to use a pair of Prusik knots to self rescue, by climbing the rope?
An Alpine Butterfly can't be moved, so it's not especially useful in many applications.
So when I was a kid, they made us climb a ~3 cm rope about 20 meters. With no aids, and just a padded mat for protection.
10 ft would still require a safety program, it just wouldn't be fall arrest, more likely prevention (scaffolding)
My friends who jumped with me were all laughing and having a great time, they thought I was being dramatic or something.
A web search brought up tons of hits of this being discussed in skydiving forums. Apparently it’s related to older harnesses. Some skydivers don’t believe it’s real.
Thanks for posting this.
1. This is almost exclusive to sustained free hangs. Bouncing against a wall or otherwise working your thigh muscles circulates blood with minimal effort, so standard climbing circumstances raise the safe time - potentially by hours. (Notably, Alpine climbing guides and specifically Alpine rescue guides do cover this syndrome in case someone falls and hangs while awaiting aid.)
2. OSHA-style harnesses are over-the-shoulder devices anchored between the shoulderblades. Many don't even have waistbands, just leg and armpit straps. That's useful for unpredictable falls, but it's the worst possible configuration for suspension trauma. Your legs hang straight down and the straps pull up at the edge of your groin, cutting off blood flow. Even hanging free, the climbing harness posture (elevated legs, pressure on hamstrings) is much safer.
3. Safety harnesses are mostly cheap and ill-fitting because you're not expected to hang in them; they're the same unpadded straps you get on the worst climbing gym rental harnesses. The time to initial risk apparently varies a lot with harness fit and padding, so comfy climbing gear is also much safer.
The ad below has a good visualization of the difference; it's from a company selling OSHA-compatible harnesses which pull you into a climber-like sitting position for exactly this reason.
*: Prevention: when tied in you can't make it to a place you can fall such as a system that prevents you from getting within a few feet of a roof
Edit: the link you provide seems to be a lightweight fall protection harness and certainly one I'd like using as I prefer a lighter harness when working at height because it means less fatigue and less chance of a mistake leading to a fall.
Where this starts to really matter though, is in the event of an accident, particularly if you're above, and belaying a second, and the second is hit by a rock or something and falls unconcious. In this case, you often can't easily lower them, especially if you're more than 60 meters off the deck; you usually can't raise them unaided either, unless you're unhumanly strong. Setting up a z-pully in a timely manner, and hauling the second up is the best option.
Unfortunatly, these sort of skills are not often practiced in the climbing community.
Edit: also, I think it's less of a practical issue in a climbing harness, unless you also have a chest harness on, or a full body, which is pretty uncommon.
1. You probably don't have time. As the article says, you have less than 14 minutes. If the climber isn't within view, you may not even realise they are unconscious for a few minutes, perhaps thinking they just can't hear you.
2. If you don't have efficient pulleys, friction will be a major issue. Hauling a person up a long pitch on a Z drag is going to be a challenge. More mechanical advantage would just add more friction and time.
3. Raising the climb could cause them injury, or make their injuries worse, and could potentially kill them. Their body or the gear attached to it is likely to jam against something or snag on the way up unless it is a completely clear path.
Another option in that scenario is going down to the injured climber after escaping the belay. If you have enough rope out of the system, you can abseil down. Otherwise, you will need to descend the taut rope down to the hanging climber.
From there, I suppose you would need to manipulate their body to get blood flowing.
...and that is only the first step of the rescue! I hope I never have to face such a scenario.
Cavers will spend a long time hanging in space on rope when climbing out of deep pits (over 100 meters / 300 ft) with single rope technique. That doesn't lead to harness hang, because you are engaged in aerobic activity with your legs.
I cannot speak to any differences between climbing harnesses and safety harnesses.
Even for safety-gear falls, suspension trauma is somewhat overhyped for "slip and your harness catches you" accidents. The natural reactions - fidget, adjust for comfort, move your legs if they feel tingly - increase the safe time a great deal, so the main risk is falling into a hard-to-recover spot and getting tired.
That said, construction incidents are far more likely than climbing falls to be worst-case events: a substantial fall paired with injury or unconsciousness. When that happens, the impact pulls the harness tight and the victim doesn't adjust it or otherwise move around at all. That's where the stats about trauma starting in minutes enter the picture.
After my comment I did some more searching and found plenty of discussion of harness hang syndrome in the context of rescuing an incapacitated climber though.
I think I've only heard of a single accident when this has happened and involved death, though.
(hint: put it below or you could get stuck if you can't escape the prusik)
But you're right, the weight distribution isn't really what matters in this case.
But even during super long belays, it's unlikely for the belayer to be motionless for even ten minutes.
I don't hangdog all that much, so i was actually unaware of this risk, but it's worth keeping in mind!
So you're saying my lung volume has implications for the chance of deep vein thrombosis or possibly even for varicose veins? Great engineering right there.