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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32 | PHILLY
The Ins and Outs of Blood Clots
Associated with Athletes
Dr. Charles Dietzek