TARRYTOWN, NY, February 14, 2002 -- Calling deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots, an underestimated public health problem, the Council for Leadership On Thrombosis (CLOT) Awareness and Management announced its formation today to raise awareness, advance prevention and treatment, and reduce the dangers of DVT, a potentially life-threatening condition that affects approximately 2 million Americans per year.
Comprised of medical experts representing various specialties and affiliated with leading U.S. institutions, the Council plans to target both health care professionals and the general public with such major initiatives as a national DVT FREE screening program of 7,500 patients at more than 200 hospitals, and the ClotAlert™ Resource Center, a multifaceted campaign to educate consumers, physicians and health professionals about the risk factors and symptoms of DVT.
"Deep-vein thrombosis represents one of the most commonly occurring and serious medical conditions, yet it has never received the same attention as heart attack or stroke," said Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD, director of Venous Thromboembolism Research Group and Cardiac Center's Anticoagulation Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and co-chair of the Council for Leadership On Thrombosis Awareness and Management. "The public is not nearly as educated about the potential health risk of DVT, nor is the public aware of the symptoms associated with blood clots. Our mission as a Council is to raise awareness of DVT so the public can recognize the symptoms and urgently seek medical help."
"This is the first time that DVT has been portrayed as a true public health problem," said Victor Tapson, MD, associate professor, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and co-chair of the Council for Leadership On Thrombosis Awareness and Management. "Only with that level of attention will we make progress in reducing the frequency of missed diagnoses. Although dangerous, once diagnosed, DVT is easily treated."
"DVT FREE" Screening
The Council will act as the steering committee for the DVT FREE screening program, the largest and most comprehensive observational registry of patients suffering from DVT ever undertaken in the United States. The screening will be conducted as an epidemiological survey of approximately 7,500 patients at more than 200 hospitals throughout the country. Health care professionals at participating institutions will determine the clinical history of patients with confirmed DVT and ascertain what prophylaxis, if any, was administered previously. The screening will be the first step in establishing a nationwide database to define the standard of care for patients with DVT.
"DVT is often a silent illness that can go unrecognized because of its minimal symptoms, but as medical professionals, we have to keep the possibility of blood clots on our radar screens," said Dr. Goldhaber. "There are several emerging treatment strategies that allow us to treat DVT more easily, safely and effectively. We've had FDA-approved ways to prevent DVT, but we have to recognize the problem."
ClotAlert™ Resource Center
The Council for Leadership On Thrombosis Awareness and Management is launching the ClotAlert™ Resource Center, a series of educational initiatives designed to increase both public and professional awareness of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot in the lung that may be fatal if left untreated, as national health problems. The Center will provide tools to help improve the public's awareness of DVT and PE and currently available treatments and preventive strategies. It will also aid non-vascular clinicians in the diagnosis and management of DVT and PE and offer medical counseling skills for treating at-risk patients. For more information, patients and physicians can call 1-800-CLOT-FREE.
About Deep-Vein Thrombosis
Deep-vein thrombosis involves the formation of a blood clot in one of the large veins of the upper or lower limbs or pelvis. Blood clots form when circulation to particular parts of the body is abnormally sluggish and/or damage to the blood vessel has occurred. If the blood clot breaks free and travels through the veins, it can reach the lungs and lead to pulmonary embolism (PE). It is estimated that 600,000 patients with deep-vein thrombosis develop pulmonary embolism each year, with PE responsible for up to 200,000 deaths. According to the American College of Chest Physicians, fatal pulmonary embolism may be the most preventable cause of hospital death.
Some of the risk factors for developing a DVT include acute medical illness, orthopedic or lower extremities surgery, cancer, chronic heart or respiratory failure, inherited or acquired predisposition to clotting, varicose veins, obesity, pregnancy, birth control pills, postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, advanced age and long-distance travel.
A DVT commonly occurs in one leg and symptoms may include tenderness, pain, swelling and discoloration or redness. About half the time, though, the problem causes no symptoms whatsoever.
The Council for Leadership On Thrombosis Awareness and Management is comprised of 11 health care professionals specializing in the fields of emergency medicine, cardiology, vascular nursing, pharmacy, general and orthopedic surgery, pulmonary, internal, perioperative, vascular and critical care medicine. The Council has been established through an unrestricted educational grant provided by Aventis Pharmaceuticals.