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Critical Need Exists to Address Health Conditions That Put Patients at Highest Risk for Deep-Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism
Date:3/9/2011

NEW YORK, March 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of the eighth annual DVT (deep-vein thrombosis) Awareness Month, the Coalition to Prevent DVT is focusing on the importance of DVT and its risk factors among patients with co-morbid conditions – including but not limited to cancer, heart or respiratory and obesity patients.  

DVT remains the leading cause of hospital-related death, and 10 percent of hospital deaths may be due to PE (pulmonary embolism).(1)  This is due to restricted mobility, which can also be related to patients who have undergone surgery; such as cancer patients.  In addition, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and those patients who experience poor circulation due to blockage in the arteries have heightened risk of blood clots and pooling.(2)  Based on these startling statistics, there is a critical need for healthcare professionals and individuals to recognize the risk and need for education about DVT and PE complications as a potentially leading cause of death.  

"For patients who are newly diagnosed with conditions such as cancer and obesity, it is extremely important that they are having conversations with their healthcare professionals about DVT and PE because these conditions are such serious risk factors for DVT," said Coalition National Patient Spokesperson, Melanie Bloom, whose husband, NBC news correspondent David Bloom, died eight years ago from DVT-related complications while covering the war in Iraq.  

Almost anyone who's fighting cancer is at heightened risk for developing a DVT; in fact a majority of patients with cancer may be at risk for DVT and complications from DVT are the second leading cause of death among cancer patients.(3)  More than 50 percent of people who died from certain cancers had developed a DVT(4) and certain types of cancer treatments may reduce the body's ability to produce blood clotting agents called anticoagulants.(5)  

"Cancer patients have an increased risk for DVT and pulmonary embolus due to their tumors, which can turn on the blood clotting system, and surgery and chemotherapy, which can injure blood vessel walls," said Craig Kessler, M.D., Coalition Physician and Chief of the Division of Coagulation and a hematologist at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center.   "Up to 10 percent of people who have been diagnosed with certain high risk malignancies, such as lung cancer, will develop a DVT or PE within 12 months."

DVT is a blood clot that forms inside a deep vein, most often in the lower leg. Once formed, a blood clot or fragment of a clot can break off and may cause severe complications, such as a pulmonary embolism (PE)(6) and even death if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.(7) Up to 2 million Americans are affected by DVT annually.(8) Approximately 300,000 Americans die each year from PE.(9) Complications from DVT claim the lives of more Americans than breast cancer and AIDS combined.(8)

Not only does DVT Awareness Month provide a platform to encourage and strengthen discussions about DVT and PE risk assessment among co-morbid patients, but it also encourages dialogue between healthcare professionals and patients about ways to reduce risk – including increasing movement and stretching as one way to increase blood circulation.  

The Coalition has established DVT as a national health priority, but there remains a critical need to continue to close the gap between risk and patient understanding of this serious yet preventable condition.  

The Coalition's website, www.preventdvt.org invites both patients and healthcare professionals to obtain educational information, downloadable tools and resources to assist in generating further public awareness and education.

About DVT Awareness Month In 2005, the United States Senate officially declared March as DVT Awareness Month.  DVT Awareness Month is championed by the Coalition to Prevent DVT to raise awareness of this serious medical condition among consumers, healthcare professionals and public health leaders.

About the Coalition to Prevent DVT The mission of the Coalition to Prevent DVT is to reduce the immediate and long-term dangers of DVT and PE, which together make up one of the nation's leading causes of death. The Coalition will educate the public, healthcare professionals and policy-makers about risk factors, symptoms and signs associated with DVT, as well as identify evidence-based measures to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality from DVT and PE. The Coalition is composed of more than 70 members from medical societies, patient advocacy groups and other public health organizations dedicated to raising awareness of this serious medical condition.  For more information about the Coalition to Prevent DVT, visit www.preventdvt.org.

The Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis is funded by sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC. For more information, visit www.preventdvt.org.

(1) Geert WH, Pineo GF, Heit HA, et al Prevention of venous thromboembolism: the seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombatic and Thrombylotic Therapy

(2) American Heart Association. Common Cardiovascular Diseases. Available at http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=2873 (Accessed September 8, 2009).

(3) Lee, A.Y., et al. (2003) "Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin vs. Coumarin for the Prevention of Recurrent Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Cancer: Randomized Comparison of Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin vs. Oral Anticoagulant Therapy for the Prevention of Recurrent Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Cancer." New England Journal of Medicine 349:146-153.

(4) Lynman, Gary H. et.al. American Society of Clinical Oncology Guideline: Recommendations for Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis and Treatment in Patients with Cancer. J Clin Oncol 25:5490-5505.

(5) National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. How Is Deep Vein Thrombosis Diagnosed? Available at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Dvt/DVT_Diagnosis.html (accessed September 15, 2009).

(6) Heit et al. Am Soc Hematol. Presented a: 47th Annual Meeting and Exposition, American Society of Hematology; December 2005; Atlanta GA, Poster [68].

(7) Goldhaber SZ. Deep vein thrombosis: advancing awareness to protect patient lives. White paper. American Public Health Association; Public Health Leadership Conference: Washington, DC: February 26, 2003.

(8) Gerotziafas GT, Samama MM. Prophylaxis of venous thromboembolismin medical patients. CurrOpin PulmMed. 2004;10:356-365.

(9) Murin et al. Thromb Haemost. Comparison of the Outcomes after Hospitalization for Deep Venous Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism. 2002; 88: 407-14.Contact:Ashley Forrester(202) 530-4677ashley.forrester@bm.com
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SOURCE The Coalition to Prevent DVT; sanofi-aventis U.S.
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