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and What to Watch for

That Could Save Lives

By Rachel Simpson


ealth care is at its prime in today’s society, but even with

amazing advances in technology and medicine, a good number

of t e population is walking around leading everyday lives with

underlying conditions. Take for instance, the pregnant woman who

delivers a full-term baby that weighs less than five pounds. After

lab tests, doctors discover she has a genetic blood clotting disorder

referred to as Factor V Leiden, which, most likely restricted blood

flow to the baby – a condition the new mom never knew she had

before pregnancy and may have never known if not for deciding to

have a child.

This concept also rings true for athletes as well. When you are

young, eating a healthy diet, and are in excellent physical condition,

no one thinks they are at risk for life threatening problems and

certainly not for blood clots. After all, none of the common risk

factors including obesity, heart disease and a sedentary lifestyle

are in the picture so why worry? Unfortunately, however, even the

fittest athletes are at risk according to researchers who now realize

that those who are in supreme shape are quite possibly more apt to

develop potentially serious complications from blood clots.

That’s where Dr. Charles Dietzek comes in. A board-certified

vascular surgeon, Dietzek founded the

Vein & Vascular Institute in 2005, with

offices in Voorhees, Sewell and Vineland,

where he and his staff practice a full spec-

trum of comprehensive venous and cos-

metic procedures. He has also taught more

than one thousand physicians in Total Vein

Care, a national physician-training course

in the art of vein treatment.

Although Dr. Dietzek now does the

majority of his work related to varicose veins, he continues to treat

his fair share of patients with blood clots, some who are athletes

who suffer from athletic-related venous situations. According to Dr.

Dietzek, anytime someone gets traumatized they are set up for a clot

especially if they are injured and immobile for an extended period of

time. Even for those athletes who are in their prime, a leg cast could

be the cause of a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot in a

deep vein of the leg.

DVT is a serious condition because blood clots in the deep veins

can break loose and travel through the bloodstream into the lungs.

The blood clot can then occlude blood vessels, blocking blood flow.

This is called a pulmonary embolism, and in some cases where the

clot is large, it can result in sudden death. According to Dr. Dietzek,

there is not too much that can be done to prevent a sports-related

injury other than taking typical precautions such as wearing protec-

tive gear; however there

are signs and symptoms

to look for that require

medical attention. These

are swelling, pain, redness and firmness in an injured extremity.

The scary part, according to Dietzek, is that you don’t have to

be disabled or unhealthy to suffer from a blood clot. “You can be

perfectly healthy and young and get side-lined. Everyone is at risk

especially in the event that a trauma is sustained.” So what is the

silver lining? Fortunately, clots can be investigated with a simple,

painless ultrasound and typically respond well to treatment with

blood thinners called anti-coagulants. Dr. Dietzek recalls the story

of a female athlete who was casted after suffering from a broken leg.

When the cast was removed, her leg was swollen, painful and there

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The Ins and Outs of Blood Clots

Associated with Athletes

Dr. Charles Dietzek