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Am I at risk of developing a blood clot?

Pictured: Peninsula Health pharmacists Mays Shabbot and Esther Liu are raising awareness of Venous Thromboembolism.

People of all ages can be affected by the formation of blood clots in the veins – officially known as Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).

May 15-19 is Peninsula Health VTE Awareness Week. Pharmacists Mays Shabbot and Esther Liu are reminding patients and health care professionals to be aware of VTE – which causes 7% of all deaths in Australian Hospitals and is preventable in most cases.

“We are trying to raise awareness so that health care professionals and patients are aware of the risks, as it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent VTE,” explained Mays.

While age is a risk factor, VTE doesn’t just affect older people.

“People are more at risk if they take certain medications such as oral contraceptives, if they are obese, have active cancer, have family history of blood clots, have recently had surgery (especially hip, knee or surgery for cancer) or are pregnant, with pregnant woman having a 10 fold risk compared to others,” said Esther.

“Being hospitalised is a risk factor on its own for a blood clot as is travelling on a plane for a long period of time without moving around,” added Mays.

VTE is caused when blood circulation isn’t moving as well as it should be – which is why people in hospital with limited mobility are at a higher risk.

There are two types of VTE – Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

“DVT can start in the leg, arm or pelvis. The clot can break off and travel to the lungs and turn into a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) which can be fatal,” explained Esther.

“Some of the common signs of DVT are redness, warmth around the area, swelling, pain or tenderness. For PE, its unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain (may be worse upon deep breath) and rapid breathing or heart rate. Some people do not have any warning signs or symptoms.”

Esther and Mays said people should review whether they are at an increased risk and also be aware of the symptoms.

“While the focus is on VTE prevention, if people do experience the symptoms it is important to get treatment as soon as possible, before it has progressed from DVT to PE.”

“If you are in hospital for an extended period of time, make sure you ask your Doctor or Pharmacist if you have had a VTE assessment. If you have had surgery that affects your mobility and are sent home with anti-clotting medication, make sure you complete the course” Mays and Esther said.

For more information visit the World Thrombosis Day website.

 

Jessica Mills

JMills@phcn.vic.gov.au