By Ross Walker

Recently the Australian Cricket Coach, the 45 year old Darren Lehmann, also holding the record for the most runs scored in Sheffield Shield Cricket, not to mention his rather brilliant test career as a batsman, recently suffered a deep venous thrombosis.  This prevented him from being in New Zealand for the first part of the ongoing cricket tour. This is the second deep venous thrombosis suffered by Darren Lehmann, the first being in 2007.

Deep venous thrombosis is also known as the ‘economy syndrome’ because of its strong relationship to people sitting cramped in the economy section of a plane during a prolonged flight. DVT has also been referred to, in some circles, as e-thrombosis. Basically, any prolonged immobilisation whether it be sitting on a plane for a number of hours, sitting in a car on a prolonged journey or even sitting in front of a computer for a long period of time may even precipitate clotting in the deep veins in the legs. The most serious complication of deep venous thrombosis is the clot breaking away and travelling to the lungs where it can cause what is known as a pulmonary embolus, which can be life-threatening.

We then must ask the question – why does a young man such as Darren Lehmann experience deep venous thrombosis? It is not due to prolonged immobilisation, this is purely the precipitant. The underlying cause, especially in younger people of recurrent deep venous thrombosis is almost always one of the eight specific genetic clotting disorders. 

Instead of somebody who suffers the economy syndrome wanting to sue Qantas for being crammed for so many hours, they should be suing their parents for giving them the genes that predispose them to the clot. Darren, like any sufferer of a significant deep venous thrombosis, should be having the full blood screen looking for one of these genetic abnormalities. The commonest abnormality known is Factor V Leiden but there are many others such as prothrombin complex abnormality, anti-thrombin 3 deficiency, protein S protein C deficiency, a defect in the MTHFR gene, an elevated Lipoprotein (a) and the autoimmune disease, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. These are the more common genetic abnormalities but there are certainly a few other very rare conditions which can lead to clotting.

Regardless, we now have very effective blood thinning medications that can help prevent any further recurrence of deep venous thrombosis and certainly help prevent spread to the lungs and depending on the underlying genetic abnormality will depend on how long these treatments should be continued for. Any blood thinning treatment always has the potential to cause bleeding, but typically this can be controlled, whereas a major clot travelling to the lung can cause severe damage to the lungs and even potentially death. Even recurrent small clots can raise the pressure in the lungs leading to major health issues as well.

If you or someone you know, has a history of recurrent clotting, it is vital they have the full blood screen and consider long term blood thinning therapy. 

Knowing Darren Lehmann personally, he is a fine human being and we all wish him well and regardless, with appropriate medical therapy he can continue to coach Australia to hopefully many more successes.