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Brian Vickers Talks About Clot, Return To Racing

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 27 2013

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

Brian Vickers says a boot he was wearing caused his latest medical problem. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Brian Vickers said Sunday the blood clot that has sidelined him for the rest of the season was caused by a protective boot he wore for 1 ½ months after suffering a mid-foot sprain in a wreck at Bristol Motor Speedway in August.

“This is essentially the exact same thing that happened to (professional tennis star) Serena Williams,” Vickers said prior to the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway. “I was wearing a boot that kind of immobilized my right ankle to help with that foot sprain and that boot is what caused the clot, pretty much right where the boot kinda constricted my calf. If you have some type of injury in your legs and they’re immobilized, that is very common.

“The good news for me in both situations, the first one and this one, is there were specific situations that created the clots. Because of that I’ve never spontaneously produced a clot at random. That creates a completely different situation than someone who is just throwing clots all the time, randomly.”

Vickers was first sidelined with blood clots in 2010. He missed the last six months of the season with blood clots in his left leg and lungs. Later, a clot was discovered in a finger of his left hand. That resulted in extensive tests that determined he had a hole between his heart’s right and left atrium, as well as May-Thurner Syndrome, a rare condition that puts a patient at risk for more blood clots and possible stroke. He underwent surgery to repair the hole on July 12, 2010.

Vickers said Sunday the heart surgery had more to do with where clots would go if they formed rather than preventing the formation of one.

“The hole in my heart last time between the left and right atrium was to prevent a clot forming in my legs going through my heart and going to my brain,” the 30-year-old Vickers continued. “It was more about preventing potential stroke risk. So my chance of having a stroke is no more than yours. Obviously, having had a clot twice you can’t argue against the fact that for some reason or another I’m more prone (to blood clots) than someone else. But the things that have caused my clots are known factors that can create clots. No doctor has told me (that I need to be on blood thinners the rest of my life).”

Vickers said he was on the blood thinner Xarelto and doctors have told him he would be off in three months. Currently, he takes 15 milligrams of Xarelto in the morning and at night. Eventually, he will switch to 20 milligrams once a day. He said he felt “great” and he was still exercising and training, he simply couldn’t race because if he was involved in a crash and suffered an internal injury doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding until the anti-coagulation medicine wore off.

In Vickers’ opinion, the discovery of the clot couldn’t have occurred at a better time even though it’s sidelined him for three months.

“If I found this in November or December, it would pretty much wreck all of next year,” explained Vickers, who noted if it had been earlier the sponsorship deal with Aaron’s for 2014 might not have been signed. “…I’ll still be able to get some testing in and then go race for a championship.”

It was a “little bit of pain” in Vickers’ right calf that caused him to visit a doctor following the Oct. 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He said he had a knot in his calf, it wasn’t going away and he’d already had the boot off “for a while.”

“At first I thought maybe I just bruised my calf or something wearing the boot and that was a bit optimistic,” Vickers said. “It didn’t go away so I went to get it checked out and I had a slight swelling in my right calf. At that point, I just didn’t have a good feeling about it. I called the doctor and got an ultrasound. That’s how we found it.”

Vickers admitted he was frustrated.

“I’ve been bummed since all of this happened again,” Vickers said. “Unfortunately, I’ve been dealt some bad cards at times, but no one should feel sorry for me. I’ve been dealt some great cards, too. I think in most of the areas of life that matter most I’m very thankful. I’m surrounded by great family and friends. Obviously, I have a health issue right now, but it’s been managed, it’s been taken care of, it’s not life-threatening at the moment. It is what it is. You just have to keep going.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 27 2013
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