Whether you’re intensely training for the Olympics or you’re an avid runner and cyclist who does it for fun and exercise, being an athlete generally means you’re healthy and fit. Few would suspect that athletes and blood clots mesh, since most often blood clots are associated with people who are on bed rest, obese or live a sedentary lifestyle. But athletes also have a high risk of developing clots and venous disease. Detecting and treating the problem early on can literally save your life, and being proactive makes all the difference. Learn about the connection between athletes and blood clots, including valuable information about prevention, detection and treatment of venous disease in Middle Georgia.
Athletes and Blood Clots: The Causes
When blood flow is slow, blood clots can form as blood platelets and plasma thickens forming the nidus for a clot. This can happen when you have low blood pressure, are on bed rest due to an injury or after surgery, or on a long flight where moving around isn’t permitted. If a clot forms in the leg veins, which is often the case, it can cause what is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This alone is problematic leading to long term leg issues; however, the real concern is when the clot travels to the heart, lungs or brain, causing heart attacks, pulmonary embolism (PE) or a stroke.
If you live an active lifestyle, dehydration in addition to injuries and surgeries that require extended bed rest can increase your risk of developing DVT and other venous disease. Some very athletic patients have low blood pressure, which increases the risk. Finally, a genetic predisposition, certain medications and your lifestyle “off the field” can affect your likelihood of developing blood clots.
Athletes and Blood Clots: Detection and Prevention
Whether you’re very active or you live a more sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. These include*:
- Swelling in one spot or across an entire limb
- Discoloration in the arms or legs
- Sudden warmth or itching that doesn’t go away
- Pain or soreness in the legs, chest or arms
If you’ve recently experienced any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact us for an evaluation. However, if you experience chest pains, shortness of breath, blurred vision, or stroke-like symptoms, call 911 and immediately go to the emergency room.
*Please note that many patients show no symptoms at all, so it’s important to have regular checkups with your doctor to ensure you’re in peak physical condition.
The good news is that there are ways you can help prevent blood clots from forming. These include:
- Compression stockings during long flights, after a surgery or injury, or whenever you experience prolonged inactivity
- Get up and move every couple of hours, do calf raises in place if you cannot get up and walk
- Elevate your legs when sitting
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Pay close attention to adequate hydration and nutrition, particularly during very grueling workouts or training
- Regular checkups with a vein specialist to evaluate and treat any concerns with vein health and circulation
Bottom line is that you should take care of your veins like you take care of your muscles, flexibility and waistline. Don’t neglect your health in exchange for performance. Athletes and blood clots don’t mesh!
How Vein Specialists of the South is Helping Athletes
Our highly experienced staff has helped countless patients recover from their painful symptoms and get back to living healthy lives with little or no downtime. Dr. Kenneth Harper is a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine and has added credentials in venous ultrasound and interpretation: Registered Phlebology Sonographer (RPhS), Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation (RPVI) our vascular lab is credentialed by the IAC for Venous Testing.
Now you can join the thousands of athletes and patients with physically demanding jobs who have chosen the Vein Specialists for their vein care. We are all about the ‘right procedure for the right patient and the right time.’ With improved vein care and health you, too, can enjoy healthier legs with better performance.
We have two comfortable, well-equipped locations in Middle Georgia to serve you: one in Downtown Macon and another office in Warner Robins outside of Robins Air Force Base. For more information or to schedule a consultation regarding blood clots or other venous health concerns, contact us at Vein Specialists of the South in Middle Georgia today.