Playing Video Games for Five Hours Gave Me Blood Clots
by Gary K
(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
In tree house with grand kids
On Tuesday, August 9, 2011, I was checked into the hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, with blood clots in my leg, DVT (“Deep Vein Thrombosis”) and in both lungs, PE (“Pulmonary Embolisms”). A number of my friends knew I was having some medical issues the previous few days. I was on the phone to one and was sheepishly admitting that I thought it might have something to do with my playing video games for five hours straight.
My wife and I are grandparents of five. Our friends consider me a bit eccentric liking video games so much—of course, our grandkids love that. As I am relating my story, my friend mentions that he had heard on the news about someone in the UK having PE from doing the same thing. That is how I found out about Chris Staniforth.
I read all about how Chris, only 20, developed these clots from sitting for long periods without exercising his legs. It seems shocking how this can occur with someone so young. But, for me it was amazing this was happening to me, too.
I had been on a health regime to control blood pressure and cholesterol and I was succeeding. I was playing tennis at least every other day and eating mostly healthy foods. My endurance was improving, my weight good and blood pressure coming into normal range.
Just three days before, I was playing tennis but feeling light headed after just a few games. I figured that it was a system imbalance. The previous night, after too much coffee and staying up to all hours playing video games, I hadn’t had that much sleep. So, thinking I could rest a day and then play a match the day following, I tried that.
Again, I became dizzy and almost passed out after two games. My tennis buddies were concerned and I promised I would visit the doctor on Monday, the next day. I thought it was some heart related problem where I would need a stint to allow better blood flow. So, I called a friend who had a stint put in and I was relating my symptoms. He did say not to waste any time getting this checked, but that how I was describing things didn’t seem to match with what he had experienced.
Monday morning I went to the doctor’s office with no appointment. They took me immediately.
They ran an ECG, gave me a physical and took blood. I mentioned my family history. It was in my file that my younger brother by two years had poor circulation for some time. He did not exercise much and he did die of PE several years prior after a five hour plane trip from San Francisco to Chicago. But, we really didn’t focus on that. My heart tests were looking fine and my blood work would be back the next day.
It was that night that I called my sister-in-law to talk about my brother, Jeff. It struck me that several months prior to his plane trip, he had passed out and that all attention centered on his heart. A month before he died he said that the doctors had given him a good report on his heart. That is what the doctors were telling me, too.
I looked up PE on the internet and found that DVT – clots in the legs can precede PE. DVT symptoms were swelling and/or slight ache at the base of the calf. That was me. Aching calf that I thought was just a typical tennis ache and pain. I hadn’t even mentioned it to the doctor.
The next morning, Tuesday, I called and had them organize an ultra sound for DVT. The nurse told me they found three clots in the lower leg, but that they weren’t above the knee. Because of family history, they wanted to do an MRI on my lungs. I was coughing a bit and a little short of breath.
That was it – PE in both lungs. Immediately they put me in the hospital on blood thinners. This was very serious. I could have died at any time. Thanks God, I have angels on my shoulders that I am here to tell this story.
Several things I have observed from this experience. First, I thought no one could recover from PE, and that if PE happened problems were immediate and final. Not so. The symptoms build over time. It is just that they can be attributed to many other things. You are just unaware of how serious things are becoming.
Second, you may be doing things, or have inherited blood qualities that increase blood clotting. For example, it has since been found that my nephew has higher coagulating agents in his blood. I believe I have this, too. Also, I was eating “healthier.” That being leafy green vegetables that have higher vitamin K, thereby inducing your system to produce higher coagulants.
Finally, my circulatory system has some inherited problems. Sitting for long periods, whether at the office, on an airplane or playing video games –these all increase risk of DVT and subsequently PE.
The best thing to do is to be aware of what could happen and try to take measures to prevent it, or identify it if it has already happened. I believe my brother helped save my life – I never would have thought to look at DVT and PE if this hadn’t happened to him.
In the same way, if through Chris’ story people become aware of the dangers surrounding DVT and PE, he will be saving many lives for those who can change doing things that could cause this problem.
God Bless Chris and God Bless my brother, Jeff. May their stories be a benefit to others.