Golf legend Arnold Palmer and actor-writer-comedian Kevin Nealon find common ground in fight against blood clots

Posted: February 27, 2015 | Word Count: 639

Arnold Palmer is one of the world’s greatest professional golfers; Kevin Nealon is one of his generation’s most beloved actors / comedians. Though seemingly worlds apart, they’ve experienced conditions that raise their chances for developing blood clots and/or stroke. The unlikely duo has set out to inspire millions of people like them to understand the importance of prevention and treatment.

Palmer is one of up to 900,000 Americans who have experienced a blood clot caused by deep vein thrombosis—or DVT—which is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein in the body, often the leg or thigh. Up to 300,000 people die every year from the condition. About half of the people diagnosed with DVT don’t experience any of the symptoms, which include swelling, pain or tenderness, and warmth or redness of the skin on the affected area.

“I’m fortunate that my DVT was diagnosed and treated before it led to something even more serious,” said Palmer. “Being an athlete or an active person doesn’t make you immune to blood clots. They can happen to anyone at any time.”

Always quick to make a joke, Kevin Nealon chalked up his first symptoms of nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (or AFib) to a pounding heart that came from trying to impress his future wife.

“We were on vacation and I was attempting to ignore the age difference between us by acting energetic—playing volley ball, water skiing, and only resting for short naps,” said Nealon. “Suddenly, I couldn’t keep up anymore. My heart was beating so fast that I became concerned and had to see the hotel doctor. I was later diagnosed with AFib, and quickly realized it was no laughing matter.”

AFib is an irregular heartbeat that puts people with the condition at a five times greater risk for having a blood clot that could cause a stroke. In fact, it accounts for 15 to 20 percent of all strokes in the U.S.

Both Palmer and Nealon were told by their doctors that they needed to take a blood thinner to help prevent clots from forming in the future. They also learned that there are treatment options available that do not require regular blood monitoring or carry any known dietary restrictions.

They’ve teamed up with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to raise awareness about DVT, AFib and treatment options. Videos featuring their own personal experiences are featured on, and for every view they receive, Janssen will make a donation to Mended Hearts, a nonprofit organization that offers peer-to-peer support, hope and encouragement to heart disease and blood clot patients, their families and caregivers.

“Blood clots do not discriminate based on age, sex, fame or lifestyle,” said Michele Packard-Milam, CAE, of Mended Hearts. “We encourage people to visit the website, learn about DVT/PE and AFib, and help make a difference for the millions of Americans living with or who are at risk for blood clots and stroke.”

“Both Arnold and I talked to our doctors about treatment options that were right for us,” said Nealon. “For people with AFib or DVT, talk to your doctor to understand the options and the benefits and risks of treatment, like the risk of bleeding.”

Visit for more information.

Steps for decreasing your risk of developing a DVT-PE:

* If you’re sitting for an extended period of time, such as a long car or plane ride, make sure to get up and stretch your legs to keep the blood flowing

* See your doctor for regular checkups

* Don’t smoke, and keep a healthy weight

* Wear compression stockings as directed by your doctor

* Take all medicines that your doctor prescribes to prevent or treat blood clots

* Follow up with your doctor for tests and treatment

Symptoms of AFib:

* Palpitations (feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, or beating too hard or fast)

* Shortness of breath

* Weakness or problems exercising

* Chest pain

* Dizziness or fainting

* Fatigue (tiredness)

* Confusion

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