This is the first documented case in Israel in which prolonged sitting, sometimes even for several days in a row, caused severe damage to the heart, due to a pulmonary embolism, and to the patient’s critical condition. Prof. Eyal Herzog, Director of the Cardiology Department at Hadassah Ein Kerem: “The phenomenon is identical to that described in the medical literature regarding people who fly on long flights. Even in the safe room, it is important to get up and move around as much as possible.”
The doctors of the cardiology department at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital saved the life of F., a resident of Sderot who arrived at the hospital in a life-threatening condition after sitting in a safe room for a long time.
F., 52, was taken by helicopter to the hospital in critical and unstable condition due to a large pulmonary embolism that caused severe damage to the right ventricle in his heart.
Dr. Gabby Elbaz, a physician in Hadassah’s cardiology department and a senior catheterist, says: “There are several common and well-known factors that lead to pulmonary embolism, including a long flight that forces sitting for several hours. This is the first case we have documented in the State of Israel in which the cause of the pulmonary embolism is prolonged sitting in the safe room. This case certainly makes it clear how this dangerous situation can continue, as we have seen, for several days in a row.
This is a significant warning light for thousands in the State of Israel who are forced to stay in the safe room for a long time, usually in a small structure with other family members, so walking inside it is almost impossible,” emphasizes Dr. Elbaz, “and yet, we recommend that during prolonged sitting in the safe room, one should maintain mobility, specifically to keep moving.”
With the beginning of the Iron Swords War and the constant sirens in the Gaza envelope, F., a resident of Sderot, entered the safe room in his home with his family. He says that his stay in the safe room was significantly extended. As a result, he sat motionless for hours. “The barrages were heavy and continuous that there was no point in going in and out of the protected area, so I just stayed sitting in the safe room for long hours. I am a healthy person with no medical background, and towards evening, I began to feel difficulty breathing. At first, I didn’t attach much importance to it; I didn’t think it was serious or life-threatening.”
F. and his family waited for the security situation to calm down a little, and they decided, like many residents of the south, to evacuate to Eilat. After a few days, during which he did not feel well, and his health did not improve, he decided to go to the hospital, where they found that he was suffering from a pulmonary embolism.
F. was flown in critical and life-threatening condition to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he was treated by the special invasive team that treats pulmonary embolisms. Dr. Gabby Elbaz and Dr. Mordechai Golomb, who catheterized F., describe what happened: “As soon as the helicopter landed at Hadassah, we understood that he was in critical and life-threatening condition. After clinical evaluation per the medical protocols for these cases developed at Hadassah, we performed cardiac catheterization. We injected a drug through a catheter directly into the pulmonary artery in the heart, which dissolved the blood clot. The treatment was very successful with immediate improvement in the patient’s clinical condition.”
Prof. Herzog, Director of the Cardiology Department at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, emphasizes: “In tense times such as these, when many civilians spend many hours in protected areas, it is important for us to emphasize the critical significance of moving around in the safe room. As has already been described in previous articles dealing with the subject – among those who fly on long flights and are forced to sit for a long time without changing position, here too deliberately moving the body (such as straightening the legs and moving the toes) is critical. If, after sitting in the safe room for a long time, sensations of sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, or a feeling of fainting appear, seek medical attention immediately. This is literally about saving lives.”