11

Rumors in my office abound that neckties are bad for your health. One manager often scoffs that "they even did studies" and that ties impair blood flow.

Checking Wikipedia offers a few hints but the relevant parts undersourced:

[V]ascular constriction occurs with over-tight collars. Studies have shown increased intraocular pressure in such cases, which can aggravate the condition of people with weakened retinas.[14] There may be additional risks for people with glaucoma. Sensible precautions can mitigate the risk. Paramedics performing life support remove an injured man's necktie as a first step to ensure it does not block his airway.

[14] appears to be a study specifically focused on the "effect of a tight necktie on intraocular pressure".

Aside from intraocular pressure issues, do neckties pose any health threat with regards to blood flow?

  • "over-tight" collars is pretty obvious, one should think. But health risk by neckties per se? – Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 29 '11 at 17:52
  • @jae: Sure, I think the collar bit is more likely but I don't hear my coworker complaining about tight collars. The specific complaint is neckties. – MrHen Jun 29 '11 at 20:38
  • I can imagine paramedics removing even loose neckties for a number of reasons: to get better access to carotid pulse, to avoid it getting caught in equipment or being stood or knelt on, to give access for a tracheotomy. All I am saying is that just because a paramedic chooses to do it, does not make it a safety risk in day-to-day events. – Oddthinking Jul 5 '11 at 15:32
3

Although all I can see is the abstract, this pubmed entry: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21076611 indicates that for healthy subjects, "There was a reduction in cerebrovascular reactivity" but it was "still within a range of considered normal". People with other vascular risk factors might have some issues.

This study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16276286 also indicates an increase in intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients wearing tight neckties, but doesn't seem to indicate that the increase in pressure is a huge problem, although another study indicated that a tight necktie could mess up diagnosis and management of glaucoma.

I think that the bigger problem with neckties is that they can offer bacteria a free ride from one place to another. I saw a couple titles for papers on pubmed about this, but alas no abstracts.

  • of course it all depends on how tight you tie your tie. Most people I know that wear them (myself included) keep them rather loose because it's just so much more comfortable that way. – jwenting Jul 5 '11 at 6:41
1

I have Vasovagal Syncope Syndrome (common fainting) and neck ties do make it much more likely to trigger an event. The danger comes from possible injury during fainting. Nevertheless I avoid ties like the plague.

The reason is the blood flow restrictions might be perceived by the system as possible blood loss situation and trigger the syncope reflex as a defense mechanism so I don't bleed to death (so my parasympathetic nervous system thinks). Of course, with people like me I don't actually have to have a severed limb to trigger the reflex, just a sudden change in blood flow.

  • First, my sympathies; sounds like a scary thing to live with. Do you have any references to support your claim that neck ties aggravate the fainting? (Also, do you know whether it increases fainting risk to people without the condition?) – Oddthinking Jul 5 '11 at 15:35
  • It sounds scary but it is not really. For one, my doctor told me that a restriction in the Vasovagal nerve (near the Carotid artery) such as wearing neck ties. It is obvious why from this diagram (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carotid_artery) – ja72 Jul 5 '11 at 18:12
  • Also from the same article "Stimulating its baroreceptors with low palpitation can provoke severe bradycardia or even stop the heart in some sensitive persons." – ja72 Jul 5 '11 at 18:15

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