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Taking the Bench

When it was announced in February that Miami Heat basketball star Chris Bosh would not be returning to active play for the rest of last season, it was a shock. Indeed, Bosch’s contribution was sorely missed as the Heat exited in the second round of the playoffs, having pushed Toronto to the brink of elimination. Consistently one of the best players in the league, Bosh currently averages 19.2 points a game along with 8.5 rebounds a game: numbers especially impressive when you recall he played alongside greats like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade while winning two championships in both 2012 and 2013.

What happened? Was it injury that kept Bosh out? It turns out Bosch has deep vein thrombosis (DVT), more commonly known as a “blood clot.” He isn’t alone in this diagnosis, sharing it with approximately 900,000 people in the U.S. DVT can be fatal. Affecting circulation of the blood, what makes it particularly dangerous is that the clots can dislodge and block arteries and veins in other, more crucial, areas. The scariest scenario—and likely the biggest reason such a cautious approach is being taken with Bosh—is the condition “pulmonary embolism:” when blood flow is blocked in the lungs. When this occurs, oxygen is no longer able to get where it needs to, and a person could in essence drown on dry land.

Drawing up the Play: Signs & Symptoms

On every level in basketball, the coaching staff and players are best served when they know their opponents inside and out. On the professional level, the play of opposing players and tendencies of teams are thoroughly studied. The plan is to counter their play by exploiting their weaknesses with plays are drawn up before every game.

The same could be said when suffering from pulmonary embolism. Given the severity of this condition, it’s important to find its weaknesses and combat them using medical treatments. Major symptoms include:

  • Swelling: A surefire sign of DVT is swelling in the affected leg. Occasionally, you’ll see this occur in both legs.
  • Pain: DVT-associated pain can be centered on one or both legs. It often starts in the calf and has been described as feeling like cramps or intense soreness.

Sometimes, DVT occurs without being noticed, but for pulmonary embolism, the signs are unmistakable:

  • Difficulty Breathing: The most common sign you have this condition is if you experience a sudden, unexplained period of shortness of breath.
  • Chest Pains: Most feel this condition sharp pain, especially when inhaling deeply.
  • Dizziness: This condition is also characterized by feeling light headed and fainting.
  • Elevated Heart Rate: This condition is likely mostly because the heart feels the need to work harder in order to push through the blocked blood. This is experienced by many as a racing heart.
  • Coughing up Blood: Never a sign of anything good, coughing blood may often be associated with this condition.

Should you experience any of these symptoms, it’s imperative that you call a “time-out” and seek medical attention find here.

Filling up the Stat-Sheet: DVT Risk Factors

Sometimes DVT gives no sign. A knowledge of risk factors, then, can be of great importance. There are many, but here’s a rundown of some of the most common:

  • Genetics: As with so many health conditions, DVT is very often an inherited disorder that can be especially problematic when combined with other factors.
  • Prolonged Bed Rest: DVT also occurs in those who have to keep their legs still for long periods of time, as during a long recovery period in the hospital or if someone is paralyzed.
  • Pregnancy: In pregnant women, pressure in the leg and pelvis veins is increased. DVT in this population is especially prevalent if they already have an inherited predisposition for it.
  • Weight: Those who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of developing this disorder.
  • Cancer & Cancer Treatment: Some forms of cancer will increase the body’s ability to clot blood, leading to increased chances of this condition striking. To further complicate symptoms, some cancer medications will also have this effect.
  • Age: With NBA player Chris Bosh, his age makes the case a little surprising—though not unprecedented—DVT usually occurs in adults over the age of 60, but can strike people no matter how old they are.
  • Long Periods of Sitting: DVT occurs most often when the calf muscles do not receive enough contraction and stimulate necessary blood flow: especially when patients need to fly or drive often.

For a more complete list, check out reference #3.

The Fourth Quarter

During the final minutes of a basketball game, you are able to witness the results of preparation, strategic adjustments, and different executions of each team’s game plan. Huge early leads might have evaporated, star players may have become tired or frustrated, or a punch-for-punch battle can become a final, tense slugfest.

The same with DVT. It can be a heck of an opponent, but it’s also beatable.

Remember: until the clock reads “0:00,” anything is possible. A good player like Bosh will not give up in the most crucial moments of the game. In the same way, DVT is not the end of the game. Rather, it is a test.

There are a number of treatments available here at Clarity Vein and Vascular, and as with basketball, a combination of having the right attitude, developing the right fundamentals, having the right combination of teammates and skills, your battle with DVT can be won.

References

  1. Basketball Reference. ‘Chris Bosh: Career Statistics’. 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/boshch01 0bx12no.html.
  2. ‘Data & Statistics’. June 22, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/data.html.
  3. Mayo Clinic. ‘Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Definition’. MayoclinicJuly 3, 2014,. Accessed November 27, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/basics/definition/con-20031922.

January 3rd, 2017

Posted In: Latest News