Blood Clots Can Affect Young People and Athletes

Model Mia Amber Davis recently passed away at 36 years old. Athlete Serena Williams temporarily sidelined her tennis career at 29 years old. And many 20 and 30-somethings are now speaking up about their battle with blood clots, thanks to the National Blood Clot Alliance. Blood clots just don’t happen to the old and immobile. Young people are equally at risk for blood clots, some causing long-term issues and even death. Knowing the risk factors can go a long way to decreasing your chances of a clot occurring.

Surgery is a big risk factor in causing a blood clot. Mia Amber Davis’ death is still awaiting toxicology reports. She went to get arthroscopic surgery on her knee after years of dealing with an old sports injury that made her knee swell and caused problems when she walked. Within 24 hours of surgery a blood clot related to the procedure caused her death. In 2010, tennis star Serena Williams underwent two foot surgeries and was rushed to the hospital after a blood clot traveled to her lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. She is still recovering and taking blood thinning medication as the world waits to see if she will return for Wimbledon.

“Usually, the high-risk surgeries are surgeries of the hip or knee, but also pelvic surgery,” said CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. “Really any type of surgery can increase your risk. This is an example. Even young, elite athletes can have this happen.”

Dr. Ashton says all individuals can do things to lessen their risk. These tips include:

  • Before surgery – doctors can give medications to prevent blood clots
  • During long travel times – get up to stretch your legs, move your limbs, do small exercises
  • Keep well hydrated
  • Get tested if your family has a history of blood clots or clotting disorders
  • Wear or use compression therapy

Compression therapy can stimulate the venous system and address the factors associated with clot formation. When you’ve had a surgery, you’re not moving as much and blood starts to pool instead of circulating. Changes in skin color – particularly in the lower extremities – and increased limb warmth, pain and tenderness, and swelling are all signs to look out for. When a blood clot breaks off and travels up the body to the heart or lungs, many individuals experience shortness of breath and an increased heart rate. To learn more about other risk factors and how mechanical compression therapy can address your concern, click here.