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J Athl Train. 2013 May-Jun;48(3):431-5. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.2.21. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Factor V leiden thrombophilia in a female collegiate soccer athlete: a case report.

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Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.



To raise awareness among health care providers caring for an active population to an uncommon genetic mutation that increases the risk for a potentially fatal venous thromboembolism.


A 19-year-old previously healthy female collegiate soccer athlete complained of coughing and progressively decreased exercise tolerance, which were attributed to a recent illness and lack of sleep. Later that evening, she complained of dyspnea and pleuritic pain and was referred to the emergency department. Bilateral pulmonary emboli were identified with computed tomography, and a hypercoagulable panel revealed that the patient was heterozygous for the factor V Leiden mutation.


Pneumonia, pneumothorax, pericarditis, pleuritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pulmonary embolism.


Intravenous heparin therapy was initiated immediately in the emergency department. This was followed by inpatient anticoagulant therapy for 5 days and outpatient anticoagulant therapy for an additional 12 months. During this time, the patient was unable to participate in soccer drills or return to competition and was limited to conditioning activities due to the risk of increased bleeding time.


Documented cases of pulmonary embolism in a young athletic population are rare and are usually associated with genetic risk factors. Factor V Leiden is a relatively uncommon genetic mutation that dramatically increases the risk for venous thromboembolism. Although the fatality rate in this population is low, fatality is preventable if the condition is recognized early and managed properly.


Athletes should be encouraged to communicate with their athletic trainers regarding any changes in health status or medication usage. When an athlete presents with nonspecific symptoms such as dyspnea and chest pain, athletic trainers should consider the possibility of pulmonary embolism. A high degree of suspicion results in early diagnosis and treatment and may prevent a fatal event.

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