More people in Ireland are getting potentially fatal blood clots in hospital or after discharge than on long-haul flights.
There are around 4,000 blood-clot related deaths here annually but the condition is still under the radar, said Dr Jamie O’Sullivan a principal investigator and research lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Deep vein thrombosis involves blood clotting in the legs and it can be fatal if it breaks off and travels up to the lungs causing a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism.
Dr O’Sullivan said: “Around 60pc who develop blood clots are in hospital or have been discharged for up to three months.”
She said it is necessary to screen patients to find who might be at risk when they are admitted.
“Risk factors can include age and whether they are on hormonal contraception or hormone replacement therapy. Other risks could be smoking or family history of blood clots.”
Hospitalisation where the patient has prolonged immobility in bed for more than three days or surgery can increase the chance of developing a blood clot.
“Doctors can then assess if the patient should be put on preventative treatment in the form of blood thinners,” she added.
The risk of suffering a blood clot remains for three months after discharge.
Dr O’Sullivan was speaking in advance of World Thrombosis Day on October 13 which aims to raise awareness about what can be a silent killer.
“A blood clot that forms in the leg can in a small proportion of cases travel to the lung and at that point it is a pulmonary embolism It can carry a very significant mortality rate and be associated with death if not diagnosed quickly,” Dr O’Sullivan said.
Signs to look out for are chest pain, light headedness, dizziness, being out of breath, tenderness or redness in the leg or swelling.
“Most people are very treatable if caught early. Only a small number are undetected. One of the silver linings around Covid-19 is that it has brought more focus on blood clots,” she added.
“Cancer can be a strong risk factor. One in four patients with cancer can develop a significant blood clot on their cancer journey.
“The risk increases if they have advanced cancer or had surgery or chemotherapy.
Women who have given birth are also at higher risk.