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Blood Clot Risk Common in Hospitals

About 52% of Hospitalized Adults Are at Risk of Dangerous Blood Clots, Global Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 31, 2008 -- Dangerous blood clots are a common risk for hospitalized adults, and many of them don't get drug treatment to cut that risk.

That news comes from a new study of more than 68,000 hospitalized adults in 32 countries including the U.S.

About 52% of those patients were at risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), based on their medical charts, which the researchers reviewed.

VTE includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which clots form in deep veins, and pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal condition in which blood clots travel through veins to the lungs.

VTE is a well-known risk for hospital patients. It's "the most common preventable cause of in-hospital death," write Alexander Cohen, MD, of King's College London, and colleagues. Surgery is a risk factor for VTE, and so is being immobilized in a hospital bed.

Treatments to reduce the risk of VTE include blood-thinning drugs and compression stockings. But Cohen's team found that only 59% of surgery patients and 40% of nonsurgery patients got VTE preventive care.

The reasons why patients didn't get VTE preventive care aren't clear. Some patients may have had medical reasons why they couldn't take blood-thinning drugs.

"Work is needed to improve prevention of VTE in hospitalized patients," states an editorial published with the study in the Feb. 2, 2008, edition of The Lancet.

The study was funded by the drug company Sanofi-Aventis. In the journal, Cohen and colleagues note financial ties to various drug companies including Sanofi-Aventis.

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