30,000 Australians develop blood clots in their legs or lungs every year. Blood clots kill 4x more people than road accidents – 5000 people die from blood clots each year. Many blood clots develop during or after a hospital stay, but can happen even after a simple sprained ankle.
Risk factors that can contribute to a blood clot:
- Coronary heart disease
- High dose oral contraceptive pill
- Family history of blood clot or previous blood clot
- Blood clotting disorders
- Sitting still, or bed rest for long periods of time
- Recent surgery
- Some cancers
- Hormone therapy
- Old age.
Symptoms of a blood clot in your leg
- Pain and tenderness in your leg
- Leg pain if you extend your foot
- Swelling of your lower leg and foot
- The skin on your leg is red and warm.
A blood clot in your leg can cause inflammation and leg ulcers. But if the clot dislodges it can travel through your blood vessels, lodge itself in a major artery and cause sudden death. Blood clots can be silent with few symptoms so it’s important the risks are recognised and identified.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has stepped in to cut the death toll. A new set of standards based on US and UK guidelines during and after a hospital stay are being implemented in Australian hospitals.
Risk prevention strategies can decrease your risk by up to 70%. To reduce your risk, ask the question of your Dr – Do you think it possible that I could develop a blood clot? And prevent a catastrophic event from happening.