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Clots as bad as heart disease: experts

Clots as bad as heart disease: experts
Photo: Clots as bad as heart disease: experts
Australians need to be made aware of their risks of getting a blood clot and the dangers that can follow, say medical experts.

Blood clots kill at least an estimated 40 Australians a day and should be regarded as important as heart disease and diabetes, according to medical experts.

Monday is the inaugural World Thrombosis Day, with the Australasian Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, and the Stroke Foundation joining forces to increase awareness.

The organisations say 90 per cent of Australians remain ignorant of the significant dangers of blood clots and do not consider them to be a major threat to their lives.

But around 14,000 Australians are estimated to develop deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism each year, with about 5000 of those proving fatal.

Professor Hatem Salem, emeritus professor of haematology at Monash University, says people do not understand the risks they face and the consequences that can flow.

"We need to make blood clots and thrombosis an important issue alongside heart attacks and diabetes," he said.

He said most people believed if they got a clot, it would be on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.

But risk factors also included surgery, trauma, leg injury, pregnancy, and hormone therapy.

"However while blood clots are scary the majority are avoidable," he said.

National Stroke Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor said 80 per cent of the 50,000 strokes in Australia this year will be caused by blood clots.

"Shockingly, many of these strokes are preventable," Dr Lalor said.

"People simply do not know enough about stoke, their stroke risk or the simple steps that can be taken to reduce that risk," she said.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS:
* Swelling
* Pain and tenderness
* A change in skin colour
* Redness

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF PULMONARY EMBOLISM:
* Unexplained shortness of breath
* Chest pain
* Rapid heart rate
* Coughing blood
* Light-headedness or passing out

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF STROKE
* Face - check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
* Arms - Can they lift both arms?
* Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
* Time - Time is critical.

But as some people do not have any warning signs or symptoms of a blood clot, it is important to know the risk factors, which include:
* Long periods of inactivity
* Hospitalisation
* Family history
* Major surgery
* Heart disease
* Being overweight or obese
* Smoking
* Pregnancy hormone therapy
* Cancer
* An unhealthy diet
* Dehydration
* Flying

Copyright AAP 2014

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