Improving Outcomes for Patients with Venous Thromboembolism

Doctors examining ankles and knees of patients

Prevalence and Lack of Awareness

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) refers to a blood clot that starts in a vein. It is the third leading vascular diagnosis after heart attack and stroke. There are two types: 1) Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg; 2.) Pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal, occurs when a DVT clot breaks free from a vein wall, travels to the lungs and then blocks some or all of the blood supply. About two-thirds of patients with VTE present with DVT only. The remaining present with PE as the first manifestation and primary cause of VTE-related mortality. Patient awareness of the risk of VTE associated with hospitalization is low.

  • In a large global survey conducted in 2014, the proportions of respondents who were aware of thrombosis, DVT, and PE (68%, 44%, and 54%, respectively) were lower than the proportions who were aware of other thrombotic disorders such as heart attack and stroke (88% and 85%, respectively).

  • Fewer than half of respondents were aware that blood clots were preventable, and awareness that conditions such as cancer, hospitalization, and surgery were associated with risk was quite low (16%, 25%, and 36%, respectively).

This lack of awareness is not the result of a lack of interest on the part of patients or their families. A survey of patients and families found that participants wanted to learn about VTE symptoms, risk factors, prevention, and complications, preferring to receive education in the context of a doctor-patient encounter.

HeartBEATS from Lifelong Learning™

What is VTE: Why Does it Matter?

Watch a discussion among experts on the epidemiology of venous thromboembolism (VTE), including identifying patients at risk and discussing methods for the accurate diagnosis of DVT/PE as well as existing VTE treatment options, algorithms, and corresponding safety and efficiency profiles. CE and ABIM MOC Credits available.

HeartBEATS from Lifelong Learning Logo
This series is supported by an educational grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer Alliance.