Asked 8 years, 2 months ago

Can running cause deep vein thrombosis?

DVT Concerns and Running

I am a healthy 48-year-old veteran of 12 marathons. I have been running for about 12 years. I am 6 feet 3 inches, 200 lbs. I am seeking information about deep vein thrombosis (DVT)/pulmonary emboli associated with running. I ran the Detroit Marathon and then 3 weeks later developed pleuritic chest pain and unilateral pleural effusion. I spent 4 days in the hospital, treated for presumptive pneumonia, but I had no fever. The pain was unimaginable. After 6 weeks off, I started running again. I ran a 19-miler and had the same thing happen a week later—this time bilateral effusions, incredibly painful. My chest CT was normal. I was again hospitalized for 4 days, and had a total of 12 days of IV antibiotics with resolution of symptoms. I started running again with a drop in mileage, to about 20 or 25 miles/week.

Similar symptoms began three months later. Then a month later I developed DVT in my left leg. The chest CT showed multiple emboli, but I was having no chest symptoms. I am currently on Coumadin and asymptomatic. I will probably be on this for life. I had laboratory work done from a hematologist, and all thrombophilia tests were normal. I was seen at the Mayo Clinic for their opinion, and they don't have an explanation. I am an OB/GYN and I am stumped as well. I had a normal colonoscopy 2 years ago. There is no family history of thrombosis, and no recent long car rides or flights. My hematologist (a non-runner!) thinks it may be due to trauma induced by running. I am not buying that as I have never heard of it.

My questions are: 1) Could running induce DVT? 2) Is it reasonable to think that I will get back to distance running? 3) Can anyone think of any other reason for me to have thrombosis? I really would like to start running again, but obviously I want to be safe, too.

Stanley Martin, MD


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