When you think of potentially deadly health issues, do you think of a blood clot? According to a recent U.S. survey, only 7 percent of people say they are concerned about blood clots, known by the medical term thrombosis. However, what they might not know is one in four people worldwide die from conditions caused by thrombosis, making it a leading cause of global death and disability.
So, what is thrombosis?
- Thrombosis is the formation of potentially deadly blood clots in the artery (arterial thrombosis) or vein (venous thrombosis).
- When a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg, it is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- If a blood clot travels in the circulation and lodges in the lungs, it is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).
- Together, DVT and PE are known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), a dangerous and potentially deadly medical condition. DVT + PE = VTE.
“Thrombosis is a significant public health issue about which many people are unfortunately unaware,” says Dr. Gary Raskob, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and chairman of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee. “Understanding the risk factors for thrombosis and if you are at risk, as well as the signs and symptoms, is knowledge that could save your life.”
Some signs and symptoms of DVT include pain or tenderness in the calf and/or thigh; swelling of the leg, foot and/or ankle; redness and/or noticeable discoloration; and warmth.
People with PE often experience shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain (which may be worse during deep breath), rapid heart rate, lightheadedness and/or fainting. Risk factors for VTE include hospitalization, surgery, cancer, prolonged immobility, family history, estrogen-containing medications and pregnancy or recent birth. Given that up to 60 percent of VTE cases occur during or after hospitalization, it’s important to ask your doctor for a risk assessment anytime you are admitted to the hospital.
“Knowing the facts about thrombosis can save your life,” says Mike Albanese, a comedian living with AFib, a common type of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, which can lead to the formation of a deadly blood clot. “As a comedian, I try to use my shows as a platform to educate others about thrombosis, which can be preventable when you know what to look for.”
VTE-related events cause more deaths each year in the U.S. and Europe than breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicle crashes combined. That’s why the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) created a global movement called World Thrombosis Day on Oct. 13 to increase awareness of this often-overlooked condition
When it comes to thrombosis, knowing the signs, symptoms and risk factors can help you keep life flowing.
For more information about thrombosis, visit worldthrombosisday.org.