JENICE Smart knows how deadly blood clots can be. Her father and cousin died from them and she has had her own emergency experience.
The Warrnambool nurse educator has supported a national push to make more people aware of the risks, which are 100 times higher when confined to a hospital bed for extended periods.
An estimated 5000 Australian hospital patients die every year from blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Healthcare products company, Covidien, this week announced results of new research which showed two-thirds of hospital patients had not discussed VTE or its prevention with their health professional.
“Prevention is about knowing your risks and discussing it with hospital staff,” Ms Smart said.
“That’s why patients are encouraged to be up and walking soon after surgery and getting the right treatment for their condition.
“When I trained as a nurse in the 1970s patients stayed longer in hospital for up to two weeks and blood clots were common — now it’s a much shorter stay and clotting has been reduced.”
Her father had his first blood clot in his 30s and died from multiple clots while recovering from cancer surgery aged 54.
Not long afterwards her cousin also suffered a blood clot and did not survive.
So when Ms Smart noticed unusual soreness after spraining her ankle she took herself to hospital to seek treatment for an embolism.
“As a nurse and as a result of my family history I knew the warning signs of VTE,” she said.
“I am lucky because I knew the warning signs, but everyone should be aware of the risk of blood clots in the hospital setting.”
She also urged travellers to walk regularly when in aircraft to avoid deep-vein thrombosis.
Physician at The Alfred hospital Associate Professor Harry Gibbs said it was alarming some doctors did not discuss VTE prevention with patients.
He has been quoted as warning even if a patient survives a VTE, they are still at risk of a range of painful conditions including chronic lower leg inflammation, non-healing ulcers and ongoing swelling.