News Roundup: Week of Sept. 21 – Sept. 26

Tool raises awareness; Blacks tight-lipped at doctor's visits

Web Tool Targets Factors that Cause Deadly Blood Clots

ComputerHealthStethoscopeThe Venous Disease Coalition (VDC) has launched an online assessment tool to help raise awareness about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, two conditions that affect African Americans 30% more than whites.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when a blood clot develops in the large veins of the legs or pelvic area, is treatable with prompt diagnosis and treatment. However, if not treated early, DVT can be fatal if a blood clot travels through the heart and into the lungs. This complication is called pulmonary embolism.

“One person dies every five to six minutes from a DVT or PE related event in America, and some groups, such as African Americans, are at a significantly higher risk of developing these conditions,” said Dr. Garth Graham, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the VDC’s annual meeting last week. “Many of the causes of DVT are entirely preventable and easily treatable, so it’s crucial that people understand their level of risk and take action to reduce this.”

The tool is structured in the form of a quiz that asks users to indicate their risk factors then alerts them of their likelihood of developing DVT and PE. The VDC, which is composed of 35 health associations, created the tool with the intent to draw awareness to DVT and PE among patients and healthcare professionals. In addition, the VDC wants to encourage patients to be more aggressive with health professionals if they believe they have DVT or PE but were misdiagnosed.

People at risk for VTE may have recently underwent surgery or pregnancy, endured bed rest or a prolonged trip causing an inability to walk, inherited medical conditions such as congestive heart failure and severe obesity, ingested medications that predispose the blood to clotting or have a history of smoking or varicose veins. Symptoms include pain or swelling, increased warmth and/or red or discolored skin in the affected leg.

–Marcia Wade Talbert

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