Egamer and esports commentator Geoff "iNControl" Robinson died in July 2019 at the age of 33 from a blood clot in his lungs. Six years earlier he had been hospitalized for a blood clot in his leg. That event turned him into a vocal advocate for getting gamers up and moving in order to prevent the condition.
Like other athletes, those who play esports must take care of their physical and mental health. As a pioneer in defining gaming health, Orlando Health has recognized this need and partners with Magic Gaming, a collaboration between Orlando Magic and the NBA 2K league, to help players stay in peak condition. Even as the gaming community mourns Robinson’s passing, we can learn lessons from his advocacy that will help us stay healthier.
Sitting Too Long Can Lead to Blood Clots
Robinson discovered in 2013 that sitting for long periods enables blood clots to form because the blood doesn't circulate as much. Blood clots don't just happen to egamers, but to anyone who is sedentary. It can happen to students who are sitting and studying for hours, truck drivers on a long route or airline passengers on an extended flight.
Blood clots also can occur in older people as well as those who are obese, have had recent surgery, are pregnant, have varicose veins or take hormones, including birth control. Genetics and diseases like cancer also can increase the risk of blood clots.
If you have a blood clot in your leg, you may suddenly feel pain and swelling. The area may be red and feel warm. If you have these symptoms, see a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room right away.
Blood Clots in the Lungs
In certain types of clots, called deep vein thrombosis, a piece of the clot can break off and travel through your bloodstream to your lungs. If that clot blocks the artery going to your lungs, it causes a pulmonary embolism, which is a life-threatening condition.
Like Robinson, tennis star Serena Williams had a pulmonary embolism. Williams' pulmonary embolism occurred after the birth of her baby. She, like Robinson, had a history of blood clots, so when she felt similar symptoms after delivery, she told the medical staff and insisted they check — advocacy that most likely saved her life.
Not Everyone Has Symptoms
While Robinson and Williams both experienced symptoms with their early blood clots, not everyone does.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 900,000 Americans annually have deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism and that 60,000 to 100,000 of them die from this condition each year. Twenty-five percent of those who die suddenly of a pulmonary embolism have no prior symptoms.
Simple Keys to Prevention
Although the prospect of a blood clot is frightening, prevention for most of us is simple: Get up and move. Every 45 minutes to an hour, stand up and take a walk. If you're unable to leave your seat, move your legs.
There is a growing trend of blood clots in younger Americans, with many cases of blood clots forming in gamers as young as 12 years old.
If you have been diagnosed with a blood clot, know that even after a blood clot is dissolved or removed, the condition can recur. Talk with your doctor about additional preventive measures such as compression socks or medication.
Awareness of blood clots is critical. After Robinson's first diagnosis for blood clots in 2013, he consistently advocated that his audience take "get up" breaks. If you're a gamer, a traveler or someone who works at a desk for hours on end, remember that getting up to take a walk can save your life.
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