Next Wednesday, October 13, doctors, legislators and other health professionals from around the world will promote the World Thrombosis Day – a campaign that aims to alert the population about the dangers of blood clots – currently an urgent and growing global health problem. The campaign, promoted by International Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis (ISTH), connects and empowers more than 3,000 partner organizations and individuals from more than 120 countries to join forces in disease awareness, treatment and prevention.
Thrombosis, commonly known as blood clots, can be responsible for triggering a number of potentially fatal medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, and venous thromboembolism (VTE). “VTE occurs when one or more clots form in a deep vein, most often in the leg, and travel through the circulation and can become lodged in the lungs – a condition known as pulmonary embolism”, explains Dr. Joyce Annichino, hematologist and professor in the department of clinical medicine at Unicamp.
“Despite the fact that one in four people worldwide die from diseases caused by blood clots, they are an often overlooked condition, so a campaign like World Thrombosis Day could be responsible for saving thousands of lives. every day”, explains Prof. Beverley Hunt, Chair of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee.
Based on this scenario, the Draw. Joyce Annichino points out and explains below what are the main thrusts of the World Thrombosis Day campaign in 2021.
Recent research shows that COVID-19 makes the blood “stickier”, which can increase the risk of clotting. In addition, patients hospitalized with COVID-19 face additional risks of blood clots. “It is estimated that 5% to 10% of patients admitted to the ward with coronavirus have had some thrombotic event during treatment, reaching 30% for patients admitted to the ICU – very high rates compared to the pre-pandemic period”, Joyce alerts.
This year, COVID-19 made thrombosis a big spotlight in the main newspapers around the world. This is because, in addition to contributing to the development of thrombosis, blood clots have been identified as a very rare side effect for certain COVID-19 vaccines. “After a turbulent year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we unfortunately saw an increase in pandemic-related thrombosis cases,” comments Prof. Bervely Hunt. “These are conditions that can be avoided if the general public and the medical community are vigilant about how to recognize and treat the signs and symptoms of blood clots.”
hospital associated thrombosis
Hospitalized patients are at increased risk of blood clots due to immobility and/or surgery. About 60% of all cases of venous thromboembolism occur during or within 90 days of hospitalization, making it the leading cause of preventable hospital death. “One of the factors that contribute to clot formation is stasis – blood stagnation. This condition is very common in hospitalized people, bedridden or with limited mobility”, says the doctor.
Cancer patients are four times more likely to develop a severe blood clot compared to the general population. This increased risk is driven by factors such as surgery, hospitalization, infection, and genetic coagulation disorders by factors specific to this type of disease, including type, histology, stage of malignancy, treatments, and certain biomarkers.
Estrogen-based oral contraceptive pills, hormone replacement therapy, and pregnancy are risk factors for blood clots for women. They are five times more likely to develop a blood clot during pregnancy, and about one in every 1,000 pregnant women will develop a thrombosis. “The use of some contraceptives can cause the patient to have an increase in some clotting factors and a decrease in natural anticoagulants. All of this can favor thrombosis”, explains the doctor.
How to prevent
Approximately 10 million cases of thrombosis occur annually worldwide, but the condition can often be prevented with early detection and treatment. The World Thrombosis Day campaign invites healthcare professionals to provide mandatory disease risk assessments for all hospitalized patients. In addition, the campaign encourages the public, including patients, to advocate for a risk assessment for the illness.
World Thrombosis Day shares these important tips to help prevent blood clots:
Stay active and hydrated. Set an hourly alarm and use that time to get up, walk and stretch. Being stagnant for long periods can increase the risk of blood clots. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, which can cause the blood to thicken, resulting in blood clots.
Know the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. Warning signs to look out for are leg pain and tenderness, redness and swelling, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain, and coughing up blood.
Request a thrombosis risk assessment. All individuals, especially those who are hospitalized, should ask their healthcare professional for a VTE risk assessment, a questionnaire that gathers medical information to discern a patient’s potential risk factors for developing blood clots.
To learn more about blood clots, visit www.worldthrombosisday.org.
About World Thrombosis Day
Launched in 2014 and held annually on October 13, World Thrombosis Day aims to raise awareness of the public, healthcare professionals and health systems about thrombosis and ultimately reduce unnecessary deaths and disabilities from thromboembolic diseases through increased awareness of its causes, risk factors, signs, symptoms, prevention and evidence-based treatment. World Thrombosis Day supports the World Health Assembly’s global goal of reducing premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases by 25% by 2025, as well as the World Health Organization’s Thirteenth General Program of Work 2019-2023, the Roadmap for Montevideo 2018-2030 on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the Political Declaration of the Third UNGA High Level Meeting on NCDs.
Participating organizations in ISTH and WTD are grateful for the support of corporate supporters, including pioneers: Bayer; Bristol Myers Squibb; Pfizer; and Johnson & Johnson, the champions: Daiichi-Sankyo; Sanofi; and Viatris, collaborators: Inari Medical; and Leo, and impact partners: Aspen; Cardinal Health; Roche; Stago; Sysmex; and Total CME. Special thanks to John Wiley & Sons, Inc. for financial support of World Thrombosis Day. Additional thanks go to Sobi for sponsoring the ISTH Congress Annual Charity 5K and benefiting World Thrombosis Day 2017-2021.