What I’ve Learned About Blood Clots (VTE) and World Thrombosis Day
This post featuring information that I’ve learned about blood clots is sponsored by World Thrombosis Day. All stories and opinions are my own. #WTDay15 #StopDeadlyClots #ThinkVTE
While I haven’t personally dealt with blood clots (yet), I do have some of the risk factors. With my husband’s recent surgeries and my upcoming surgery, I was interested to learn more and today I’m sharing with you about what I’ve learned about blood clots as well as bringing awareness to October 13 as World Thrombosis Day.
As I mentioned, I have not personally ever had a blood clot, but I do have several of the risk factors. I have a friend, you might remember Miss E, who has dealt with a lot of loss in her life. She is one of my very best friends and she has dealt with many medical issues in her life as well. She has a blood disorder that causes her to develop blood clots and she has taught me a lot about it through her experiences.
Recently, I was invited to attend an online training session about blood clots and the risk factors and learned about World Thrombosis Day and I wanted to share with you a little about what I learned and bring more awareness to this deadly disorder. Let me start by defining the different types of blood clots and then I will tell you about the risk factors and treatment.
What is Thrombosis (blood clot)?
Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot in the artery (arterial thrombosis) or vein (venous thrombosis). Worldwide, 1 in 4 people die from causes related to thrombosis and it is a common underlying cause of the world’s three leading cardiovascular killer: heart attack, stroke (ischemic), and venous thromboembolism (VTE).
VTE are the most commonly known blood clots and you’ve likely heard of them before. VTE refers to deep vein thrombosis (DVT – when a blood clot forms in the leg) and pulmonary embolism (PE – when a blood clot breaks loos and travels to the lungs, which can be fatal).
VTE is a leading cause of death and disability in the world and is responsible for more deaths than AIDS, breast cancer and motor vehicles combined. However, public awareness of VTE is significantly lower and nearly 3 in 4 adults don’t know what a DVT looks or feels like and 80% don’t know what a PE looks or feels like. More than half of adults don’t know that blood clots can be prevented.
What are the Risk Factors?
Thrombosis is not a condition of lifestyle. While some of the risk factors may include obesity and smoking, they are actually the minor risk factors. So, what are the risk factors?
- Hospital admission – 60% of all VTEs occur during or within 90 days of hospitalization making it a leading preventable cause of hospital death (ahead of infection and pneumonia). Hospitalization is an opportune access point for prevention. Check out this checklist of questions to ask your doctor when you are being admitted to the hospital – Questions to Ask a Healthcare Professional
- Age (60+)
- Personal or family history of blood clots
- Reduced mobility
- Estrogen-based medication (e.g. oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy)
- Pregnancy or recent birth
How do you prevent VTE?
Preventing VTE can be as simple as compression stockings and/or intermittent compression while you’re in the hospital or could be anti-clotting medications taken before, during, and after surgery. As I mentioned above, my husband just went through a couple of different surgeries and his doctors were very concerned about blood clots. He had to take anti-clotting medication before and after surgery, while he was in the hospital, and had intermittent compression (leg compression stockings that continue to move the blood around in your legs while you’re in bed) during his hospital stay. You should always talk to your doctor, even if you have to bring it up first, about how you can prevent VTE when you are hospitalized.
Signs and Symptoms of DVT
Deep Vein Thrombosis (often in the legs) is what my friend, Miss E, experienced. It started with some pain in her lower leg and she said it felt like she had pulled a muscle. The pain did not subside and she developed what looked like a deep bruise. When the pain was so severe that she could barely walk, she finally decided to visit the ER and found out she had a blood clot that could have been deadly if it had broken off and traveled to her lungs. Here are the signs and symptoms:
- Swelling in the food, ankle, or leg
- Pain or tenderness, often starting in the calf
- Redness or noticeable discoloration
- Warmth on the leg or affected area
Signs and Symptoms of PE
Pulmonary Embolism is a deadly type of blood clot and should be treated very seriously. Here are the signs and symptoms:
- Unexplained shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Chest pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Light headedness or faintness
What should I be asking?
If you’re heading into a hospitalization and/or surgery, you should take action on your own to help prevent blood clots. You should take charge of your own health and ask these questions (see the linked pdf above to print and take with you or ask these questions):
- What is my risk for developing a blood clot?
- Please conduct a VTE risk assessment.
- What can be done to lower my risk?
- Will I be given any type of blood clot prevention?
Want to learn more?
Check out the World Thrombosis Day website or follow along on social media. Here are the links: