Local entrepreneur starts fashionable and functional compression sock e-retail site after brush with death.
Blood clots. These two words often conjure up infirmary-type images— dimly lit hospital rooms and the bedridden elderly. What they rarely drum up is the picture of a vibrant young woman at the peak of health and athletic performance. But for Angelika Goncalves DaSilva, blood clots are a very real factor in her active life. And not so long ago, she nearly paid the ultimate price to one.
Alarm Bells in Moab
Back in the fall of 2006, then 28-year old Angelika and her now husband Kent were closing out the mountain bike season in epic fashion—with a 10-day trip through Moab, Utah’s fabled canyon terrain. In top condition following a summer of treks and rides in the Canadian Rockies, Angelika looked forward to tackling the thrills and transcendent vistas of Moab. Little did she know, Mother Nature had another plan.
Angelika - taking a a break on the climb in Moab
Early into the first day of riding, Angelika knew something was amiss. While cruising across plateaus and descents with ease, each climb seemed to press into her lungs with draining taxation. Her breathing resembled that of an out-of-shape couch potato, not that of an extremely fit young woman. The rest of that day continued much in the same cycle—with periods of exhausted breathing during exertion followed by relative wellness during rest. Chalking up her difficulty to sun stroke and elevation, Angelika climbed into bed and into a restless and sweat filled sleep.
View from Porcupine Rim in Moab
Waking early the next morning, Angelika set out to regain her finesse along Moab’s famed Porcupine Rim. Setting out with a riding pal, she started the day feeling great along the trail’s lesser elevations. Early into the first climb however, Angelika began to lag behind her friend—a woman she had rode with for years and enjoyed biking up the ascents with. Her breathing becoming more intensified with each pedal-stroke, it was here, in this mountain biker’s playground, that Angelika began to suspect something was wrong.
The Cause of Alarm
Angelika’s struggles continued for most of the long 19-hour drive back to Calgary from Moab. Along with her breathing troubles, crippling muscle spasms now plagued her left back for most of the journey. Back in Calgary, her symptoms continued during the night and around 3 a.m., Angelika bolted upright in bed in pain and barely able to breathe.
“I’ve always been active and had various crashes on my bike. When I woke up in pain I just thought I had some kind of muscle injury and wanted to sleep it off,” explains Angelika. “But, if I had stayed in bed that night, I may never have woken up.”
Gravely concerned, Kent rushed Angelika to a Calgary emergency clinic. After a long night of emergency room waiting, Angelika was given a terrifying diagnosis. She had formed a pulmonary embolism. The cause? A blood clot that had likely originated in her aching leg had broken free and lodged itself into her lungs, blocking blood back into the heart.
Blood clots lead to more deaths than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and motor vehicle crashes combined.
(Source: Cohen AT, Agnelli G, Anderson FA, et al. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) in Europe. Thromb Haemost. 2007;98:756-764 (listed on the World Thrombosis site, footnote #4: http://www.worldthrombosisday.org/issue/vte/#footnote4)
Deadly Side of Blood Clots
Blood clots form when blood hardens from a liquid to a solid. Those that form and remain inside a vein are called a thrombus. Blood clots can occur in many locations throughout the body and for many reasons. When formed in response to injury, blood clots are innocuous little helpers, working to stop potentially dangerous bleeding. But when they occur in or travel to critical locations, like your lungs and brain, they can be lethal.
Typically blood clots like Angelika’s form in the veins located deep within a limb, and usually in the leg (known as ‘deep vein thrombosis’ or DVT). Like Angelika’s experience, most DVT clots are characterized by pain and swelling of the leg. The terror these clots can induce begins when a clot breaks free and travels to and lodges within the lungs as a pulmonary embolism blocking blood from the lungs back into the heart.
Together DVT and pulmonary embolism are known as venous thromboembolism (VTE)—one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.
The Path to Prevention
As with many pulmonary embolism patients, finding a cause for Angelika’s initial blood clot proved difficult for her doctors. Lacking any attributable genetic factors, Angelika was told her clot was a likely combination of the long Moab drive and possibly, her birth control. Prescribed the blood thinner Warfarin, Angelika quickly recovered and got back to her busy, sporty life. With her life back in full speed and her passion continuing to build for mountain biking, Angelika decided to stop taking the Warfarin—weighing the increased risk for bleeding-out as too great for her injury prone and often remote activities.
Like any outdoor adventure junkie, Angelika’s sports have a way of kicking back at times. And sometimes those kicks break bones. In 2011, a few years after her pulmonary embolism, Angelika took a massive tumble while riding resulting in a severe ankle break and subsequent surgery. Shortly after surgery a familiar and unwelcome visitor returned—like the post Moab incident, Angelika could barely breathe.
This time, she didn’t hesitate to rush into ER - a decision that likely saved her life again. Again, her doctors insisted on a lifetime of blood thinners. Angelika decided she must find another way. Her goal? To prevent future blood clots while continuing to live her adventure-bound life as safely as possible. Her doctor’s answer? Compression socks.
The Road to Better Compression
With her solution in hand, Angelika set out to source her first pair of compression socks, which much to her dismay, required a trip to her local pharmacy.
“Just going to the pharmacy makes you feel sick. Which I wasn’t,” says Angelika.
Further making for a grim situation was the sad line-up of socks staring at her from the pharmacy display. Expensive, ugly and made of sweat-inducing nylon, the options looked more “granny” than “mountain trail-gunner” or “young fashionista”. Unimpressed, Angelika knew she had to find something that performed, felt good and looked great.
“I couldn’t find any fashionable compression socks without compromising function. There had to be a better way,” Angelika says.
Given the staggering incidence of VTE and pulmonary embolism among people of all ages, Angelika knew she likely wasn’t alone in the quest to find functional and fashionable compression. Inspired, Angelika set out to bring the best, most stylish compression manufacturers together under a single roof. And so Sockology was born.
10 million people are affected by life threatening blood clots every year.
No Longer Your Granny’s Socks
Sourcing the most fashionable and functional compression footwear from Europe and the US, Sockology socks stand out by virtue of resembling anything but compression socks. From eye catching patterns, vibrant colours and sleek monotones to cozy natural fibers like merino wool and athletic performance features, compression socks are as equal a match for the boardroom as they are the trails.
Fashionable compression socks for everyday wear
How Compression Works
Made with highly engineered fabrics, compression wear works by essentially ‘squeezing’ large venous areas of the body, such as arms and legs, to increase blood flow around the body. With increased blood flow, the chance for blood pooling and the formation of blood clot formation is significantly dropped.
Who Should Wear Compression?
Blood clots do not discriminate. They affect people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and occur in both men and women. While certain factors can increase the risk of developing deadly blood clots, every person is essentially at risk. While compression may not be necessary at all times for everyone like Angelika, most people will benefit from their use during certain situations.
“If you know you’re going to be sitting down for a long time, like flying, or going to the gym, those are great times to wear compression,” says Angelika.
Benefits of Compression
The benefits of compression are many. Beyond blood clot prevention, compression can help to:
- Prevent swelling
- Reduce pain and fatigue
- Increase recovery after exertion
- Prevent varicose veins
There are several practical steps to lower risk of blood clots: https://www.stoptheclot.org/learn_more/dvt.htm (scroll to bottom)
Supporting Blood Clot Awareness
Beyond supplying better-looking compression, Angelika’s ultimate goal is to raise awareness about blood clots and the role compression can play in their prevention.
“We believe that compression is the ‘heart and sole’ of healthy choices and we strive to educate more people about their lifestyle options,” says Angelika.
Sockology is an e-retailer of high-fashion and high-performance compression socks geared at supporting the health of runners, cyclists, skiers and everyday living.