Pat Riley, in a meeting with reporters, said that Chris Bosh’s career with the Miami Heat “is probably over” and that the team is “not working toward his return.”
Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, failed his preseason physical last week. The Heat had been prepared to clear him for play, contingent on him passing. During the testing, however, doctors reportedly found continued evidence of blood clotting.
“We headed down the road very excited to a point where we thought it would work,” Riley said. “And then the physical couldn’t clear him to the next step.”
Blood clotting is a normal process that occurs in the body to prevent bleeding and promote healing after an injury. The body forms blood clots when the platelets within the blood encounter a damaged blood vessel, and then breaks them down as the damaged tissue heals.
Clots can form unexpectedly, however, without notice or purpose, and have dangerous consequences. Certain clots, such as those that start in the leg or calf (called a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) and travel to the lungs (called a pulmonary embolism), can be fatal. And those who have endured previous clots in the past are particularly susceptible to a recurrence.
According to the NIH, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with DVT each year and roughly 30 percent of those patients develop a recurrence within 10 years, with the risk being greatest in the first two years. Recurrence is more likely in those who initially presented with a pulmonary embolism as well, as did Bosh, and is more likely to be another pulmonary embolism (as opposed to a DVT alone), leaving Bosh susceptible to a potentially more serious recurrence.
That Bosh has already endured multiple blood clotting episodes and that he plays a contact sport (professional basketball), both sharply exacerbate the risk of future recurrences. The risk for Bosh is therefore very real.
Blood clots are treated with anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners), which prevent further blood clots from forming as the body’s normal systems work to break up the existing clot(s).
For those who have endured a single clotting episode, blood thinners are typically continued for up to six months. Many professional athletes who have suffered blood clots have been able to successfully resume their careers without incident after completing their initial blood-thinner regimen.
However, people who suffer multiple blood clots are at sharper risk of a recurrence, and are typically therefore recommended to remain on blood thinners for the rest of their lives.
Blood thinners greatly reduce the likelihood of future blood clots, but they can have a potentially serious side effect: bleeding.
Since blood thinners slow the clotting of blood, unwanted and sometimes dangerous bleeding can occur with the use of these medications. Although infrequent, uncontrolled bleeding caused by blood thinners can be very serious. A blow to the head, for example, can cause bleeding on the brain and kill you!
Doctors and teams are therefore hesitant to allow players on blood thinners to return to contact sports, where a potential trauma could have disastrous consequences.
The issue for Bosh, then, becomes:
If he doesn’t take blood thinning medication, he is at risk of sustaining more, potential fatal, blood clots. Playing professional basketball only exacerbates that risk.
If he takes blood thinning medication to reduce the likelihood of a future clot, playing professional basketball puts him at increased risk of sustaining a potentially fatal bleeding event. Read more…