Why Are Fit and Active Athletes at Risk For DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where one or more blood clots form within the large veins in your legs. Clots can have symptoms of their own and can become fatal if they travel to your lungs where they develop into pulmonary embolisms.
Everyone is at risk of developing DVT, but certain activities can expose athletes to more risk than others in their age group. Read on to learn ten things that put athletes at risk for DVT.
1. Higher Risk of Leg Injury
Some sports, particularly ones like basketball and hockey, have higher rates of leg injuries.
Any damage to your leg can increase your chance of developing DVT.
The greater the damage, the greater the risk. The worst is a break that requires a cast and the most minor is something like being hit with a hockey puck.
2. Higher Risk of Injuries that Need Surgery
You are at the greatest risk of developing DVT following surgery. Athletes tend to get more severe injuries more frequently than others in comparable stages of life.
3. Not Moving Enough During Injury Recovery
Athletes may suddenly need to stop their exercise and work-out routines after becoming injured. This can sometimes last for months at a time.
The sudden periods of decreased activity put you at a greater risk for developing DVT.
4. Lots of Travel Time
Athletes in many different sports, be it at the professional, college, or even high school level, often need to travel long distances in order to compete.
Long periods of travel, involving six or more hours of sitting. automatically put you in a higher risk category for DVT.
5. Not Enough Lower Leg Exercises
You need to consistently have good circulation in your legs. Some sports may overlook leg-specific exercises. But missing out on a leg day is another way to increase your risk for DVT.
6. Not Maintaining a Well-Balanced Diet
Although athletes tend to be great at eating healthy during their season, it’s important to keep up a nutritious diet all year long. Otherwise you’ll increase your risk of DVT.
Examples of a healthy diet include:
- Avoiding saturated fats
- Limiting sugar intake
- Limiting sodium intake
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
7. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much puts you at a greater risk of developing DVT. Be aware of this unintended consequence of drinking.
Always drink in moderation, even during the off-season.
8. Taking Hormones
Hormone therapy, and the use of hormones in general, is linked to a greater risk of DVT.
Any athletes who are transitioning, or taking hormones for other reasons, should be aware of the added risk.
9. Taking Contraceptive Pills
If you're a female athlete, you should keep in mind that oral contraceptive pills put you in a higher risk category for deep vein thrombosis.
Consider using a different form of contraception if you’re concerned.
10. Being an Athlete and in Other High-Risk Categories
You’re particularly at risk for DVT if you’re an athlete and fall into one or more additional high-risk categories for DVT.
- Blood clotting disorder
- Being over the age of 60
- Recent surgery
- Frequent long-distance travel