Health

Public urged to “Move Against Thrombosis” on 10-year anniversary of World Thrombosis Day

The Global campaign promotes understanding of blood clot prevention fundamentals and often overlooked signs, symptoms and risks

Today, (October 13, 2023) is World Thrombosis Day, a global effort established by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) to spread awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors of thrombosis, commonly known as blood clots which affects millions worldwide. With one in four people dying worldwide from conditions related to blood clots, thrombosis is the leading cause of preventable hospital deaths across the globe. 

World Thrombosis Day engages more than 5,000 partner organizations and individuals from more than 120 countries who join forces to advance understanding of the treatment and prevention of blood clots. For its 10th anniversary year, the campaign encourages people to Move Against Thrombosis, as simple movements including walking and stretching can increase blood flow and help reduce the potential for blood clots to form.

Thrombosis can develop in, or travel to, blood vessels throughout the body, often causing symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions. The most common signs of a blood clot in the leg, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can include pain or tenderness in the calf, swelling of the ankle or foot, redness or noticeable discoloration and/or warmth in the area.

Signs of a blood clot in the lungs, or pulmonary embolism (PE), can include unexplained shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate and/or light-headedness or loss of consciousness. 

“One of the reasons that thrombosis ends up as the cause of death for one in four people worldwide is that many of its symptoms are synonymous with other common conditions,” advised Lana Castellucci, M.D., chair of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee.

“When a person experiences a leg cramp, for example, it is unlikely that they will seek a blood clot screening, and unfortunately, that can result in the condition becoming fatal. We are working to educate the public on the signs and symptoms of this prevalent condition to ensure proper medical care is sought before it’s too late.”

Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing blood clots, specifically: 

  • Extended hospitalization: Up to 60% of venous thromboembolism (VTE) cases occur during or after hospitalization, as patients are more likely to have decreased mobility due to bedrest. 
  • Cancer treatment: Patients with cancer are four times more likely to develop a serious blood clot due to the effects of surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Pregnancy and postpartum: Blood becomes stickier during pregnancy and immediately after delivery. Additionally, the weight of the uterus pressing on veins in the pelvis can slow circulation in the legs. 

Regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy weight is important for people with these and other risk factors. Incorporating movement in blood clot prevention inspired World Thrombosis Day’s Move Against Thrombosis theme.

According to Dr. Henry Ddungu, a medical expert and spokesperson for the World Thrombosis Day (WTD) campaign; thrombosis, or blood clotting, is far more common than most of us realize.

“Thrombosis does not discriminate, it affects people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. A widespread lack of understanding around thrombosis and its risk factors has led to the misconception that it is not a major medical condition, yet it can cause serious illness, disability, and even death. If identified early on, blood clots can be treated, and most patients recover fully to resume their normal day-to-day lives” he says.

“It’s vital for people’s well-being to incorporate exercise or regular movement into their everyday routine, adds Dr Ddungu.

“During the day set a timer to remind you to get up every hour and walk around for a bit to get your circulation flowing, and join in on this year’s World Thrombosis Day 60 for 60 Challenge, which invites everyone globally to move against thrombosis by getting up and moving every 60 minutes for 60 seconds.”

About the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH)

Founded in 1969, the ISTH is the leading worldwide medical and scientific professional Society dedicated to advancing the understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions related to thrombosis and hemostasis.

ISTH is an international medical-scientific professional membership organization with more than 7,000 clinicians, researchers, and educators working together to improve the lives of patients in more than 124 countries around the world. Among its highly regarded activities and initiatives are education and standardization programs, research activities, meetings and congresses, peer-reviewed publications, expert committees, and World Thrombosis Day on 13 October. Visit ISTH online at www.isth.org.

To learn more about the basics of blood clots, visit www.worldthrombosisday.org

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