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Warning to Weekend Warriors: Exercise Boosts Clot Risks

Warning to Weekend Warriors: Exercise Boosts Clot Risks
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Tuesday, 08 March 2016 02:48 PM

Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh and legendary tennis star Serena Williams are just a few of the many professional athletes who have struggled with blood clots. But you don’t have to be a pro athlete to be stricken, a top doctor says.

“March is when the weather is warming up across much of the country, and it’s when people who have been shut inside tend to head out to the softball field or the basketball court. I like to remind my patients at this time of year that they may be courting a blood clot as well,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.

In fact, this month is DVT Awareness Month. Short for deep vein thrombosis, DVT is a type of blood clot that occurs deep within a vein in the body and, if it breaks loose, can travel to the lungs or brain, causing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism or stroke.

“People who follow sports know that professional athletes are at risk for blood clots, but they don’t realize that even weekend warriors are at a higher risk as well, says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The precise number of Americans who suffer such clots is unknown, but it could be as high as 900,000. In addition, DVT results in between 60,000 and 100,000 deaths a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

“One of the main reasons why people usually focus on professional athletes is because they travel a lot by air, and people can develop DVT (clots) from sitting cramped in their seat for a lengthy period of time. There’s even a name for it — ‘Economy Class Syndrome,’ ” says Crandall.

But airplanes aren’t the only places that can raise the risk of blood clots. Going by car or bus to a casual athletic meet or race can also result in the same conditions that cause the blood to pool in the legs, resulting in a DVT, Crandall notes.

Another problem is lack of awareness.

“When people read headline-making articles like [those about] Chris Bosh, they naturally assume that blood clots are a problem that happens to pro athletes, and they remain completely unaware that it could happen to them, so they miss the warning signs,” says Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.

Weekend warriors may mistake pain or swelling in the calf for a pulled muscle. This could also occur in the shoulder or upper arm if a blood clot has formed in the upper body. But, unlike the professional athlete, there’s no doctor on call with whom they can check.

People who exercise regularly may also be less mindful of the need to drink lots of water, which can also increase their risks. They may become dehydrated, which causes the blood to thicken, increasing its tendency to clot.

Like marathon runners, weekend warriors may train hard, which can lower the heart rate. While this is ordinarily a sign of fitness, it can also spell danger, as blood moving more slowly through the body is more likely to clot.

Here are the symptoms and warning signs of DVT:
•    Swelling, usually in one leg, often visible in the calf and ankles.
•    Leg pain or tenderness or a sensation of chronic cramping that does not ease with ice, stretching or painkillers. Rest may make this worse and activity may make it better.
•    Reddish or blue skin discoloration (often obvious when bathing).
•    Leg warm to the touch.
•    Unexplained upper arm or neck swelling (may be a DVT that’s occurred in the upper part of the body).

Also, some people don’t experience pain with DVT so you should seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur as they could be signs of a pulmonary embolism, which is a life-threatening emergency:
•    Difficulty breathing.
•    Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat.
•    Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing.
•    Coughing up blood.
•    Very low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or fainting.

Here are ways to prevent DVT:
•    Always plan and remember to take breaks to move or stretch during long car/bus/plane trip.
•    Stay well hydrated when exercising and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can be dehydrating.
•    Wear compression stockings during long-distance air travel.
•    Ask your doctor about taking aspirin as a preventative. Fish oil supplements also have blood thinning properties.
•    Listen to your body. Pain is not a sign of greater endurance, but a symptom that something may be wrong. If something does not feel right, seek medical attention.


© 2020 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.


   
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If you follow sports, you know that professional athletes are at risk for blood clots. But you may not realize that even weekend warriors face life-threatening dangers from the condition, a top doc says.
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Tuesday, 08 March 2016 02:48 PM
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