Q. My husband loves cycling and has iliac artery occlusion. What will happen if he does more cycling?

Answered by
Dr. Sugandh Garg
and medically reviewed by Dr. Preetha J
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 28, 2020 and last reviewed on: Oct 05, 2020

Hi doctor,

My husband is a fit and healthy cyclist aged 45 years. Following months of lower performance and leg numbness, we visited a vascular surgeon. An ultrasound Doppler showed a 5 cm occlusion of the left external iliac artery. ABPI (Ankle-brachial pressure index) for the left is 0.6, and ABPI for the right is 1.4. The collateral circulation is so developed that my husband can still ride at a level better than most; although he gets a numb leg, he rides with it. We were told that an aorta-femoral bypass is a surgical option, but after he would never ride again due to possible graft kinking. My husband loves cycling, particularly mountain biking, so he does not want surgery. My questions are, could he do any more harm if he keeps riding, even if he gets a numb leg? The surgeon we saw just said not to overdo it, but we need more specifics. What could happen and what is overdoing it? I cannot see if the external iliac is completely occluded what more harm could be done (our surgeon has gone away for an extended period, and we need to know). Thank you so much.



Welcome to

This condition must not be taken casually. If your husband continues cycling, complications may arise, further worsening his condition.

The clot size may increase, causing further occlusion of the said vessel and can hamper the blood supply to the area where this artery is going to cause additional damage to other organs.

Another major complication is that the clot might get dislodged from the said site, get into any other major vessel, organ (heart or brain, or other vital organs or blood vessels of the heart or brain), causing severe complications. The ultimate and permanent cure will be surgery only. Medical treatment is only temporary.

He may try taking antiplatelet or antithrombotic drugs if his blood tests are normal, and he is advised to go for them. They will help avoid any further clot being formed and might help dissolve the existing one though doubtful. You may try alternative medicine if you are adamant for not getting the surgery done, though I cannot commit to such treatment with surety. It is just a trial, physiotherapy, or yoga or pranayama as his health and body permits. You may follow up for further details.

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