DVT: Still a Risk for Athletes

DVT Still a Risk for AthletesWhen a blood clot develops in the deep veins of the body, it’s known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT, a condition that can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated. DVT is often caused by a sedentary lifestyle, and developing healthy habits like moving more often can help you prevent DVT, but that isn’t the whole story.

For some people, the problem isn’t too little activity. Frequently engaging in endurance activities can increase your risk for developing DVT, which puts some athletes at a higher risk for the disease.

DVT is sometimes referred to as “economy class syndrome” because the condition may affect travelers after long flights. What many people don’t know is that those affected most by DVT during travel are athletes. In fact, one 2004 study found that 85 percent of DVT cases reported from air travel were in highly trained endurance athletes.

This makes DVT a big problem for many otherwise healthy people. Even active people can be at risk for DVT when forced to sit for long periods of time.

Why the Increased Risk?

One potential reason endurance athletes may be at an increased risk for DVT is tissue damage experienced during exercise. Hard training sessions increase your risk for damaged tissue, and many athletes cope with minor injuries for years. This is especially true in the muscles of the legs where DVT most commonly develops.

Another possible cause for the increased risk of DVT is the lower resting heart rate many athletes share. Frequent endurance exercise lowers the rate at which your heart pumps blood while at rest. This is great for the health of your heart, but it also gives the blood more time to coagulate and clot.

Though you shouldn’t let the threat of DVT scare you away from staying active, it’s important to remember that even world-class athletes are at risk of this condition. When put in situations where you are expected to remain still for extended periods—like long flights, car travel and at work—do your best to stand up and move around as much as possible.

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