When an artery supplying blood to the heart or the brain is blocked by a blood clot, the result is a heart attack or stroke. Indians are familiar with these two health threats but are less familiar with the dangers of venous thromboembolism, or VTE — a clot that forms in a vein.
A clot in a leg or arm, known as deep-vein thrombosis, can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected limb. However, the real threat occurs if the clot breaks and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
According to a recent study conducted by Ruby Hall Clinic in association with Sanofi, close to 70% of hospitalised patients are at risk for VTE.
What is VTE?
VTE refers to a blood clot that starts in a vein. It is the third leading vascular diagnosis after a heart attack and stroke, affecting 3 – 6 lakh people in India each year.
It could be in the form of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) — a clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg or pulmonary embolism (PE) — wherein a DVT clot breaks free from a vein wall, travels to the lungs and then blocks some or all of the blood supply.
VTE is often recurrent, and the long-term complications, such as post-thrombotic syndrome post-DVT, or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension post-PE, are frequent.
During the four-day DVT awareness symposium, conducted at Ruby Hall Clinic, experts have urged general practitioners, nurses, and physicians to keep a careful eye on the potentially deadly condition of DVT because the signs and symptoms are non-specific and often difficult to diagnose.
Haemotologist Dr Ramanan, Founding Director – Bone Marrow Transplant, Ruby Hall Clinic, spoke about the patients who could be at risk and said, “Anyone can be susceptible to these conditions, but there are certain categories of patients in whom the chances of getting a DVT are higher than others. For instance, if someone has undergone a hip replacement or a knee replacement or any pelvic surgery, cancer surgery or has been ill and hospitalised for a medical illness for a long time, which entails lack of activity, that would put a patient on high risk.”
Dr Dhanesh Kamerkar, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Ruby Hall Clinic, added, “VTE generally require therapeutic anticoagulation for a minimum of three months. When patients survive VTE and the acute course of anticoagulant therapy — and all the inconvenience, anxiety, and cost that represents — they are still at risk for other complications. More than 20 percent of patients with proximal DVT/PE are known to suffer a recurrent event once anticoagulation has been discontinued, along with all the readmissions, mortality, and morbidity risk that entails.”
It is where the awareness of the doctors and nursing staff comes into play. Dr Prachee Sathe, Director – Intensive Care Unit, Ruby Hall Clinic, commented, “Pulmonary embolism is the common preventable cause of death among hospital patients in India, and yet VTE, in general, and PE in particular, is overlooked as a public health problem. In India, there is a tremendous need for greater awareness and education about these issues. To prevent hospital-associated VTE and related morbidity, we have established and enforced a VTE protocol at Ruby Hall Clinic.”
“At Ruby Hall Clinic, patient safety is a top priority for us. As firm believers in keeping our doctors and nursing staff updated with changes in medical care, this prevention symposium marks another step in providing compassionate patient care. With conditions such as VTE taking the lives of countless patients, it’s all the more important for us to have trained staff who can nip it in the bud. The time has come for us to become VTE-free, as a hospital, and as a country,” said, Bomi Bhote, CEO, Ruby Hall Clinic.