`Warm pants' too close for comfort

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The Independent Online
Tight sports pants designed to prevent muscular injury conceal a hidden danger, doctors revealed yesterday. Sportsmen and women who wear the fashionable neoprene shorts - known as "warm pants" - may run the risk of developing harmful blood clots, a new case study has shown.

The pants, which compress the thighs, are supposed to stimulate the blood circulation by massage and to counteract swelling. But in a scientific paper published yesterday doctors describe a 25-year-old man who developed pain and swelling in his left leg after five months regularly wearing a pair of the shorts during weight training and exercise bike sessions.

Tests showed he had a clot in the large vein of his leg, the length of which corresponded to the area confined by the pants. Despite treatment to thin his blood and break up the clot it moved to his lung - a potentially life-threatening condition.

Reporting in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, Dr Nigel Jowett, from Withybush General Hospital in Pembrokeshire, said it was possible that a fractured hip the patient had suffered in a car accident four years earlier might have compounded the tourniquet effect of the pants. The paper concluded: "Whilst the pants may control swelling within the covered area, any exercise induced swelling outside the garment will not be controlled allowing an exacerbation of this tourniquet effect, slowing venous return and allowing venous pooling."