The well-known professional golfer Joey Sindelar was just in the middle of the 2009 Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Then the 51-year-old golf player, originally from Kentucky, got dizzy on the golf course, couldn’t breathe, and was eventually taken to Sonoma Valley Hospital. The diagnosis: pulmonary embolism.
Turning pro in 1981, Sindelar has won 7 PGA Tour events since then, being one of the most consistent players on the Tour. He also scored a double eagle in the 2006 PGA Championship, which made him only the third person in the competition’s history to get such a score. During the 2009 Championship, Sindelar was in good physical shape until the Friday before the incident when he started complaining about shortness of breath.
Shortness of breath is one of the typical symptoms of pulmonary embolism, together with chest pain and cough. Also known as PE, pulmonary embolism is usually the result of Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot developed in one of the legs, which travels to the lungs and blocks one of the pulmonary arteries. The most common symptom of DVT are leg pain and swelling – this is because the blood clot is constricting blood circulation.
Luckily for him, Sindelar was taken to hospital in time, he was treated and eventually put on Warfarin – blood-thinning medication which should prevent any other blood clots from forming. If left untreated, PE is a life-threatening condition and can potentially be fatal, the mortality rate being roughly 30 percent.
Varicose veins are not a direct cause of pulmonary embolism, but they are always related to some sort of venous insufficiency and poor blood circulation, both of which can be contributing factors in the development of PE. In other words, if you have varicose veins, you should always be careful about other risk factors causing DVT and PE, and probably consult risky situations (such long-haul flights or post-surgery measures) with your doctor. He will know best how to prevent anything dangerous from happening.