Runners and Blood Clots

Don’t let DVT be a hurdle in your running

You’d think that training for a marathon or running regularly would mean you are at a lower risk of suffering from a blood clot. However, you could be wrong. Here we look at what you need to know as a runner.

It’s a common misconception that blood clots only occur in the elderly or are a result of flying.

This is not always the case.

In the UK, it is estimated that up to one in every 1,000 people are affected by blood clots. And these include seemingly healthy and active individuals like Freddy Flintoff, Phil Jones and Trevor Carson – highlighting that competitive training or regular exercise doesn’t reduce your risk.

Why is this the case?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body, usually in the leg. If left untreated, it is estimated that one in 10 people with a DVT will develop a pulmonary embolism (PE). This occurs when a DVT clot breaks free from a vein wall, travels to the lungs and then blocks some or all of the blood supply – a potentially fatal condition which requires urgent investigation and treatment.

Even though you exercise regularly, there are many factors that increase your risk of suffering a blood clot. These include:

  • Sitting still for more than 90 minutes. While exercising is a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle, it doesn’t decrease your chances of getting a blood clot if your lifestyle is otherwise inactive. Whether you work at a desk and rarely move or travel long distances regularly, reduced movement is a major contributing factor.
  • Dehydration. Exercise can cause dehydration which in turn can make your blood thicker.
  • Changes in the clotting mechanism of the blood. This can be caused by pregnancy, some drug treatments and genetic disposition.
  • Damage to the lining of the blood vessel wall. This can occur after surgical procedures, trauma or inflammation.

According to statistics, one in every four deaths globally are thrombosis related. But if caught early blood clots are treatable.

What do I need to look for?

Sadly, there may be few or no symptoms of DVT and 80% of cases are ‘silent’. But we recently launched the #SeekHELP campaign to warn anyone who experiences Heat, Excessive redness, Localised swelling or Pain in their leg or arm to get urgent medical attention.

Symptoms of a PE include symptoms of a DVT along with the following:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus

What does treatment consist of?

Treatment is completely individualised and will take in to account your current lifestyle but can include blood thinners or anticoagulants. Discuss with your medical professional if you have any concerns.

How can I protect myself?

Try to keep your weight at a healthy level, stay active and keep exercising.
Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Wear loose fitting clothes and move around at regular intervals when travelling. This applies to all forms of travel including flying.
Although you exercise, make sure to get up and move regularly. Preferably every 90 minutes to get your blood moving.

There are also products on the market to help reduce the risk, including compression stockings which are routinely used in hospitals, however, these have now been called into disrepute after research published by the Imperial College (NHS) London concluded that they failed to offer any clinical or medical benefits.  Our product called the RBR legflow™ has been scientifically proven to help improve the blood flow from the lower limbs of individuals when seated.

We hope this product will be adopted by workplaces, hospital wards and airlines in future to help people carry out simple foot exercises which will drastically reduce their risk of DVT.

Key facts:

  • During sustained periods of immobility, like flying, the combined effects of venous pooling, reduced flow create the conditions necessary for thrombus activation
  • The cost of thrombosis to the NHS is estimated at over £200 million a year.
  • Globally this is a cost to health service providers of more than £22 billion each year
  • More than 60% of all cases of VTE are associated with hospitalisation, with many events occurring up to 90 days after admission
  • VTE affects approximately one in 1000 of the UK population and is a significant cause of mortality, long-term disability and chronic ill-health problems
  • In Europe, there are 544,000 VTE-related deaths every year
  • In the U.S. and Europe, VTE-related events kill more people than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and motor vehicle crashes combined
  • In the UK, up to 60% of VTE cases occur during or after hospitalisation, making it the leading    preventable cause of hospital death
  • Hospital-acquired blood clots cause an estimated 25,000 preventable deaths each year 

Risk Factors for DVT

Older Age        








Oral Contraceptives     

Long-Haul Travel