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Blood clot risk not treated preventively, study finds

DURHAM, N.C. In a nationwide study of hospitalized patients, researchers at Duke University Medical Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital found that individuals at risk for developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) -- a disorder characterized by the formation of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs -- often fail to receive preventive medications. DVT can cause death when leg clots break free and lodge in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism.

The study found that, of more than 5,000 patients who developed DVT, the majority failed to receive prophylactic therapy in the 30-day period prior to their diagnosis. What's more, said the researchers, in patients with DVT, physicians often failed to prescribe the drugs proven most effective for treating the disorder, opting instead for older treatment methods.

"Clearly, there is a disconnect between evidence and execution as it relates to DVT prevention and treatment," said co-lead investigator Victor Tapson, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center. "The bottom line is that every patient admitted to a hospital ought to be considered for preventive measures."

Tapson and study first author Samuel Goldhaber, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital, report their findings in the Jan. 15, 2004, issue of The American Journal of Cardiology. The study was supported by Aventis Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures low molecular weight heparin, a drug that can treat and prevent DVT. Tapson is a paid consultant and has conducted research for Aventis.

Those who most often develop DVT include patients with cancer, obesity and heart failure. Also at increased risk for DVT are elderly patients and those who have had surgery within the previous three months or who have been immobile in the previous 30 days.

Symptoms of DVT can be mild to severe, and include swelling and discomfort in the extremities. Administration of low-dose anticoagulants
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Contact: Kendall Morgan
kendall.morgan@duke.edu
919-684-4148
Duke University Medical Center
15-Jan-2004


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