Height and cramped spaces can lead to blood clots
Chris Bosh is 6 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 235 pounds, and has made a name for himself with NBA All-Star selections, championship rings and an Olympic gold medal. He is a talented basketball player, but his recent decision to miss the rest of the season has fans wondering about his health scare.
After experiencing discomfort in his chest for several days during a family trip in Haiti, Bosh underwent tests that found blood clots on his lungs.
Bosh isn’t the only NBA player diagnosed with this condition. Several professional basketball players have reported blood clots. Even ex-professional star Jerome Kersey from the Portland Trailblazers recently died unexpectedly after a blood clot from his calf broke off and clogged his lungs.
Dr. Chae Chu, pulmonologist on staff with Advocate Medical Group at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., believes taller people, especially those who are forced into tight quarters while traveling, are at a higher risk for developing life-threatening clots.
“Although it isn’t clear why, a recent Norwegian study found that tall men [6 feet or taller] were more likely to get blood clots,” Dr. Chu says. “Although I haven’t treated Chris Bosh, in my opinion, lots of travel for long periods of time where mobility in cramped seats is limited and his height are two risk factors that put the athlete at greater risk.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, deep venous thrombosis is a blood clot in a large vein, usually in the leg or pelvis.
Sometimes a blood clot breaks free from where it formed and moves through the heart to the lungs. If this happens, the clot can block the artery supplying blood to the lungs, which is a condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Common symptoms for deep venous thrombosis can include swelling, pain, tenderness and redness of the skin. Signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include difficulty breathing, faster than normal or irregular heart beat, chest pain or discomfort, anxiety, coughing up blood, very low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or fainting.
“Chris Bosh is very lucky,” Dr. Chu says. “Pulmonary embolisms can be life-threatening. The sooner you discover the blood clot, the better your chances of survival.”
Although most people are not nearly as tall as NBA players, long-distance traveling (four hours or more) might put a person at greater risk for blood clots.
Tips from the CDC to help protect health and reduce risk of blood clots during long-distance traveling include:
- Know the signs and symptoms of blood clots.
- If you have had blood clots, or if a family member has a history of blood clots, or an inherited clotting disorder, talk with your doctor before traveling.
- Remember to take a break – try to stretch your legs often. Also, exercising your calf muscles and moving your legs will help improve the flow of blood in your legs.
- If you are at risk for blood clots, talk to your doctor about your options. Some people might benefit from wearing graduated compression stockings while traveling.
- If you are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners), make sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations on medication use.
The CDC reports that up to 100,000 Americans die each year from deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
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