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Common blood clot in veins could lead to life-threatening condition


August 18, 2011 - Washington

Results from a new study have revealed that patients with clinically diagnosed superficial vein thrombosis (SVT), a blood clot in the veins just beneath the skin that commonly resolves on its own without treatment, are at increased risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE), a dangerous, often life-threatening condition.

Recent studies have shown that patients diagnosed with SVT using ultrasound to confirm the presence of a clot showed increased risk of VTE, however, it was unclear whether patients with "clinically diagnosed" (without the use of ultrasound) SVT also had an increased risk for VTE.

VTE is a clotting disorder that includes both deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

Symptoms of PE can include sharp chest pain, rapid pulse, shortness of breath, fever, and, in extreme cases, sudden death. While symptoms of DVT can include sudden pain, swelling, and tenderness in the limbs, not everyone with DVT experiences them.

To determine whether patients with clinically diagnosed SVT are at risk for VTE, study authors from Leiden University Medical Centre in Leiden, Netherlands, analysed questionnaire responses from 4,290 patients with VTE and 5,644 controls without VTE.

Results from the study analysis revealed that SVT was prevalent in 10 percent of the VTE patients, and in two percent of the control group.

All patients with prior SVT were found to be six times more likely to develop DVT and four times more likely to develop PE than controls.

"Our results, which are in line with recent studies that regard SVT diagnosed by ultrasonographs as a precursor of VTE, show that a history of clinically diagnosed SVT is a risk factor for future VTE," said Suzanne C. Cannegieter, MD, PhD, senior study author and Senior Clinical Researcher in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Leiden University Medical Centre.

The study was published in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology. (ASH).

ANI

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