Saturday, March 15, 2014

Athletes and Blood Clots: March is National Blood Clot Awareness Month

I believe the  official title is DVT Awareness Month.  Which is short for deep vein thrombosis, commonly known as a blood clot.

Yet, most Americans (74 percent) have little or no awareness of DVT, according to a national survey sponsored by the American Public Health Association.

I bet most runners have forgotten about this also.

I've blogged on this topic before, due to several runner friends developing these.  Some of them went as far as pulmonary embolism.  All my friends were lucky, they have recovered and are back to running.

Excerpt from that blog post:

Yes, I want to scare you. A bit. OR actually, I just want you to be aware.

You think of blood clots in ..old people. You don't think about ultra runners, or triathletes, being the ones who who develop these blood clots.

Yet we are prime candidates for these.


Okay, Athletes tend to have a lower resting heart rate. This results in blood flowing slower through the body.

Dehydration-this plays a factor in your blood viscosity. More dehydration leads to thicker blood.

 Falls, bruises? Nah, this never happens in an ultra. (Non runners would call this "trauma") Ultra runners? Well, we took a face plant eight hours ago. No big deal, right? I got a little banged up. Got some bruises on my quads, knee, arm. No big deal.  That huge bruise on my quad? That's no thang.

Due to this trauma, there may be a clot forming at the spot in the cell wall. This is your body functioning normally.

After the race is over, we get into our car, or onto an airplane, and travel hours back to where we came from. We spend hours in a cramped position.
Meanwhile, the thickened blood is pooling.The body is still dehydrated. The body is forced into the worst position to get the blood pumping throughout the body again. This is where the start of a clot in the legs (in the deep veins) can begin.

There are many more articles and resources on blood clots than when I wrote my original post in 2009.
Runner's World: Runners and Blood Clots: What You Need to Know

Endurance Corner: DVT and Thee
 Stop the Clot Alliance: Athletes and Blood Clots

There is also a group on Facebook, called "Running after a Pulmonary Embolism".  It is a closed group, but if interested just ask to be added to the group.

What can you do to prevent a blood clot or DVT?

First, be aware!

  Blood Clot Symptoms

Deep Vein Thrombosis – DVT
  • Swelling, usually in your leg (can also occur in your arm especially in weight-lifters, gymnasts, rowers, etc)
  • Leg (or arm) pain or tenderness, usually described as a cramp or Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg warm to touch
Pulmonary Embolism – PE
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus
                         -From Stop the Clot Alliance

How to Prevent Blood Clots?  Listen up, ultra runners!

  • Take breaks and stretch legs when traveling long distances;
  • Stay well hydrated (during and after a strenuous sporting event and travel);
  • Know the symptoms of DVT and PE and seek early medical attention if they occur;
  • Realize that DVT and PE can occur in the athlete;
  • Know the risk factors for blood clot;
  • Know whether you have a family history of blood clots;
  • In case of major surgery, trauma, prolonged immobility, or when in a cast: ask your doctor whether you should receive DVT prophylaxis and, if yes, for how long.
                            -From Stop the Clot Alliance


  1. Thanks for the post. Your information comes from the National Blood Clot Alliance at


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