13 Oct Recognising the global burden of thrombosis
Today marks World Thrombosis Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness of blood clots and recognising that this largely misunderstood condition can have severe complications. One in four people die from thrombosis-related conditions every year. In Europe and the US, it kills more people than AIDS, motor vehicle collisions and breast cancer combined. Yet global awareness of thrombosis is low, particularly in comparison to more widely understood conditions like cancer.
A complex condition
Thrombosis can come in various forms, but the most common type is deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot that develops in a deep vein, typically the leg or groin. If this blood clot travels to the lungs, it can block some or all of the blood supply, resulting in a pulmonary embolism (PE) which is usually fatal. DVT and PE collectively can be referred to as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Understanding the risks
There are more than 10 million cases of VTE around the world annually. The condition affects people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders, but the risk of life-threatening thrombosis typically increases with age and is associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption. The most at-risk people, though, are those in hospital for an extended period. For instance, patients recovering from a stroke or invasive surgery (particularly hip replacement). Thrombosis is a leading cause of hospital death and disability.
Prevalent yet preventable
Despite its widespread impact, VTE is preventable. At-risk individuals in hospital will be prescribed treatment – known as prophylaxis – to reduce the risk of blood clots. Standard of care for VTE prevention comes in the form of anticoagulants (anti-clotting medicine) like low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). Mechanical devices can also be used, such as compression stockings or intermittent pneumonic compression (IPC) – a boot-like sleeve that cuffs the legs and squeezes to promote blood flow.
However, not all patients can tolerate these forms of prophylaxis. For example, IPC limits mobility and can disrupt sleep; LMWH cannot be prescribed to patients with severe hypertension because the risk of bleeding outweighs the potential benefits. This leaves many patients without any form of VTE prevention, putting them at risk of developing life-threatening blood clots in hospital.
Innovation addressing the unmet need
Medical innovations like the geko™ device are enhancing healthcare delivery and improving care pathways, offering new solutions that can address unmet needs. A study by Royal Stoke University Hospital explored the geko™ device’s efficacy in VTE prevention for stroke patients unable to tolerate IPC – indicated by the CLOT-3 study as 31 percent of all acute stroke patients. The study concluded that geko™ is safe and well tolerated in patients with acute stroke for VTE prevention, where IPC cannot be prescribed.
The device is also cost saving to the NHS. NICE estimates a saving of £197 per patient when the geko™ device is used for a period of six days, when compared to no VTE prophylaxis and that under these circumstances use of the device will be cost saving until day 14.
Sky Medical Technology is proud to play a role in thrombosis prevention, helping more patients access care that prevents life-threatening blood clots.
Learn more about World Thrombosis Day here.