Stop Blood Clots, Prevent Future Strokes

Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism preventive treatment needed for stroke patients

February 15, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Ischemic stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Preventing future ischemic strokes means preventing more blood clots from forming.

Ischemic strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is stopped by a blood clot. Blood clots occurring in the lower part of the body are called deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots formed in the lungs are called called pulmonary embolisms. These two types of blood clots are life threatening for recovering ischemic stroke patients. 

Watching for symptoms of blood clots in the lower body and lungs is important for recovering stroke victims. Preventing future ischemic strokes typically involves anticoagulant (blood thinner) treatments. 

A recent study found that 1 percent of patients with acute ischemic stroke had symptoms of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Of the total stroke patients, 46 percent received preventive treatment in the hospital and 6 percent received it as outpatients. 

"Learn the symptoms of blood clots and stroke"

Alpesh Amin, MD, of the Department of Medicine, University of California-Irvine, and colleagues studied deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism symptoms and blood thinner treatments in patients with acute ischemic stroke.

Researchers reviewed information for patients over 18 years of age who were hospitalized for ischemic stroke. Patients who were discharged to an acute care facility or had atrial fibrillation were excluded from the study. A total of 1,524 patients were included in the study. 

Results showed that 1 percent of patients with acute ischemic stroke had symptoms of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Researchers noted that 46 percent of stroke patients received blood thinner medicine or mechanical treatments in a hospital. Of patients already discharged, 6 percent received blood thinner medicine.  

The researchers said there should be more preventive treatments prescribed for stroke victims in the hospital and especially more for stroke outpatients. 

There were some limitations to the study. The database used may not have been representative of the US stroke population. The average age of patients studied was younger than usual and this could mean they had less severe strokes. Also, patients were in the hospital for an average of three days, which is less than the 5.2 days previously reported in other studies. The shorter stay might not have allowed medical staff enough time to determine if preventive treatment was needed. Only outpatient preventive medication, not mechanical devices, was included in the database. 

This study, titled "Rate of deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism during the care continuum in patients with acute ischemic stroke in the United States," was published in BMC Neurology. Sanofi US, Inc. provided funding to Quintiles Consulting for this study. One of the study's authors is an employee of and several authors received fees from Sanofi US, Inc. Another author is an employee of Quintiles Consulting.