Polycythemia vera is a myeloproliferative disease caused by an alteration in the cells of the bone marrow that causes some blood cells, particularly red blood cells, to overgrow. It is a chronic, slow and progressive disease. As a rare disease, knowledge of this disease is generally poor, a phenomenon that complicates both the diagnostic process and the patient’s management of the disease. In many cases, in fact, discovering that you are affected by true polycythemia triggers a series of doubts and difficulties, which negatively affect the quality of life. Polycythemia is often discovered by chance, following routine blood tests, and is confirmed by a bone marrow biopsy. Patients may initially be asymptomatic or present with some general symptoms, such as fatigue, recurrent headache, itching, and temporary disturbances in vision, hearing, and sensitivity in the fingers and toes. Weight loss, fever, and night sweats can also occur. As the disease progresses, enlargement of the spleen and a number of other related symptoms may occur, including abdominal pain, early satiety, difficulty digesting, diarrhea or constipation. The most serious complication, however, concerns the increased risk of thrombotic events: the high levels of hematocrit make the blood denser and more viscous, which can lead to partial or total occlusion of the larger vessels. The most relevant risk factors for thrombosis are old age, smoking, diabetes, overweight, high blood pressure and hereditary factors. In patients with low-risk polycythemia vera, the possibility of thrombotic episodes is 2 times higher than in healthy subjects, while in high-risk patients the probability is even 5 times greater (Ail data). Despite this, a person suffering from this pathology can continue to lead an almost normal life, as long as they carry out treatments regularly and keep their evolution monitored through check-ups and blood tests. A study – according to an article published by ‘Aleati per la Salute’ (www.alleatiperlasalute.it), the portal dedicated to medical-scientific information created by Novartis – specifically assessed the impact of sports activity in patients with polycythemia vera, arriving at very encouraging conclusions in terms of both maintaining a good quality of life and reducing the risk of complications. Sport becomes – as reported by the site – an ally to reduce vascular risk, if practiced taking into account the patient’s age and general health conditions. Recommended daily activities are, for example, a 30-minute walk and walking up the stairs instead of using the elevator. Particular attention must be paid to the choice of real sports disciplines. In young patients, demanding activities can also be carried out, but favoring those with less physical contact or risk of falls. A patient suffering from polycythemia vera, in fact, runs a greater risk of bleeding, a condition determined by the disease and which can be aggravated by the possible intake of antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs. Sports such as boxing or rugby are therefore to be avoided and others such as cycling or skiing to be practiced with caution and only with the use of a protective helmet. Keeping the body moving becomes a concrete help not only to reduce the thrombotic risk, but also to decrease the sense of fatigue that often accompanies the disease and that negatively affects the quality of life. In fact, sedentary patients report this symptom more than those who engage in sports. Sport should therefore not be feared by people suffering from polycythemia or advised against by doctors, but used as an important tool to gain greater physical and psychological well-being. The complete article is available on: https://www.alleatiperlasalute.it/una-mela-al-giorno/lo-sport-pazienti-di-policitemia-vera.
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