A man experiences a heart attack. Blood clots can also unnecessarily form in either the veins or arteries and cause either heart attacks, strokes, or other serious medical problems. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Experts place blood clots among top killer diseases
One out of every four deaths in Kenya is associated with a blood clotting disorder, health experts have warned.
Even worse, the health experts said, blood clots are the leading cause of sudden death amongst seemingly healthy people, cancer patients and hospitalized patients.
At least three of the leading heart diseases are linked to blood clots, which is now being termed as a “silent killer”.
The statistics emerged during the marking of World Thrombosis Day held in a Nairobi hotel.
Interventional cardiologist, Dr Harun Otieno, said that while most of the blood clots that result to death can be detected early enough, lack of awareness and often misdiagnosis has seen many patients succumb to the disease.
“Unlike other diseases whose symptoms are known on time, a blood clot presents with ‘abrupt symptoms’ and unless the medic acts fast, it may be too late for the patient,” Dr Otieno explained.
According to the heart specialist, although there is limited data on cases of blood clots documented in the country, “there have been several high profile cases of sudden deaths related to a blood clot in a vein, highlighting the current and future importance of this condition”.
Every year, Dr Otieno said, thousands of people in Kenya develop a blood clot in a vein known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
It is a serious, potentially fatal condition whose symptoms vary depending on where the clot forms (either the veins or the arteries).
“A clot that forms in the leg is referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If this clot breaks loose and travels up to the lungs, it will cause what is known as pulmonary embolism,” Dr Otieno said during the launch of the Kenya Society of Thrombosis on Thursday.
Whereas there are no specific symptoms associated with blood clots, if it affects the lungs, the patient can have chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing or have dizzy spells.
“Some of the organs likely to be affected by clots include the heart, brain, lungs and even the eyes,” Dr Jeilan Mohamed, a Nairobi-based cardiologist, said.
Although blood clots are considered life saving as they stop bleeding when a person is injured, they can also unnecessarily form in either the veins or arteries and cause either heart attacks, strokes, or other serious medical problems.
“It is important to create awareness across the board because we have noticed that clots are the biggest cause of all hospital acquired deaths,” Dr Mohamed added.
Common risk factors for clots in veins include being overweight, immobility, recent surgeries, hereditary conditions, cancer and injuries.
On the other hand, for the arteries, clots form mainly as a result of high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Lifestyle diseases increase the level of cholesterol in the body which then increases the risk of blood clots in the arteries,” Dr Otieno said.
Often, he added, a patient will be given blood thinners to clear the clot when detected at an early stage but when the clot is in a dangerous place, a surgical procedure can be used to clear it.
Source: Daily Nation