"What Causes Iliac Arteriopathy in Athletes?
The first research on iliac arteriopathy in elite cyclists came out of France in the 1980s and has been growing steadily ever since. Researchers and surgeons speculate that a combination of factors may cause the external iliac arteries to be damaged, including:
- An extremely high blood flow
- Repetitive hip flexion
- An aerodynamic cycling position
Together these factors result in a continuous, repetitive flexing of the artery while under pressure. This stress, over hundreds of hours of high-intensity training, may cause damage to the various layers of the artery wall, or may cause the artery to be stretched, or kinked. Some surgeons have found a tough fibrous tissue build-up on the inside layer of the damaged artery. This fibrous tissue not only narrows the artery, but also prevents it from dilating during exercise. The result is a decreased blood flow to the legs that is often only noticeable during high intensity exercise." http://sportsmedicine.about.com/...s/a/Arteriopathy.htm
In my case I think it has more to do with the intensity of the exercise and position than it has to do with the amount of time spent on the bike. The year I had my first symptoms was the year I spent the least amount of time cycling and running.. In 2007 I had hired a coach and started working with a power meter . My workouts consisted of pretty much all short hard intervals on the bike during the week usually no more than 1.5-2 hrs total ride time. On the weekend it would be either more of the same or tempo work inserted within a 3-3:30 ride. That year my position on the bike was the most aggressive it had ever been and I could and would spend all my time riding in aero. Prior to that year the only high intensity work I would do in my training was when I would race in the summer. I do think you're going to hear a lot more about this in the coming years in the triathlon community. Based on what I've learned there is an unseen cost to doing short hard intervals all the time as the majority of your training . If you are doing this type of training I wouldn't do it in aero position.
I contacted Dr Cherry a couple weeks ago after my surgeon told me that I shouldn't expect to train or race anymore, He also told me I should expect to stay on warfarin for the rest of my life because of the blood clots I've been having since surgery. I sent Dr Cherry an e-mail and overnighted all my films and records to him. the next day he called me. He said there are no guarantees but he believes he can help, he can see something in the films that my surgeon doesn't se, I will be seeing him in a couple weeks. I would recommend you get several opinions from different surgeons once you've been diagnosed.