World Thrombosis Day 2016 – Find out about the signs, symptoms and causes of thrombosis


1 in 4 deaths worldwide from conditions caused by thrombosis

It is estimated that every 6 seconds a person dies from VTE globally

In England alone, 25,000 people die each year from venous thromboembolism (VTE) contracted in hospital

Thrombosis is often the underlying cause of heart attack, thromboembolic stroke and VTE, the top three cardiovascular killers

World Thrombosis Day aims to increase global awareness of the often overlooked and misunderstood condition of thrombosis

Many people know about the risks for breast cancer or heart disease, but most aren’t aware that 1 in 4 people worldwide die from conditions caused by thrombosis, more commonly known as blood clots.

Many, if not most, cases of thrombosis are preventable, and yet too many patients slip through the cracks. Approximately 60 percent of VTE cases happen to patients during or after being hospitalised or undergoing surgery. In the UK alone, up to 1 in every 1,000 are affected by venous thrombosis. This figure is higher than the combined total deaths of breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents, and costs the NHS an estimated £640 million annually.

Thrombosis is common, but general awareness about the condition is very low. In a 2014 global survey of nine countries conducted by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH), only 68 percent of those surveyed were aware of blood clots, much lower than awareness of other potentially life-threatening health conditions such as hypertension.

Although thrombosis can affect anyone, those who are age 60 or older are at a higher risk, as are individuals undergoing surgery or cancer treatment, people who undergo long periods of immobility and women who are pregnant. That’s why it is so important for people to understand the risks factors, be able to recognise the signs & symptoms, and ask their doctors for a VTE risk assessment if they are hospitalised.

Because 1 in 4 people worldwide are dying from conditions caused by thrombosis, it will therefore be impossible to reach the World Health Assembly’s global target of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable disease by 25% by 2025 unless we address thrombosis.

This year, more than 550 medical and health organisations from every continent will participate in World Thrombosis Day, embracing thousands of educational events and bringing together in partnership patients, healthcare professionals, policy makers, research and industry supporters to place a global spotlight on thrombosis as an urgent and growing public health problem.

Thrombosis is the formation of potentially deadly blood clots. Blood clots can form in the artery (arterial thrombosis) or vein (venous thrombosis).

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is when blood clots in a deep vein (most often the leg)

Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs

Collectively, DVT and PE are known venous thromboembolism – VTE.

World Thrombosis Day (WTD) focuses attention on the often overlooked and misunderstood condition of thrombosis. It embraces thousands of educational events across the world, and brings together in partnership patients, healthcare professionals, policy makers, research and industry supporters to place a global spotlight on thrombosis as an urgent and growing public health problem

World Thrombosis Day 2016
World Thrombosis Day 2016

What You Need to Know About Strokes

Did you know that a stroke occurs somewhere in the world every two seconds, with six fatal strokes happening every minute? This equates to 15 million people a year who suffer a stroke, approximately six million of which are fatal. Indeed, stroke is responsible for more deaths annually than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria all put together.

Stroke can often be brought about by inevitable factors like ageing and your family’s medical history, in addition to preventable factors such as a poor diet, excessive smoking or lack of exercise. The warning signs to look out for include weakness on one side of the body, slurring of speech and a difficulty in maintaining balance. When stroke occurs, it could easily be fatal, and even in cases where the victim survives, his/her life is turned upside down. Difficulties with swallowing, communicating, vision and movement are likely to ensue.

To learn more about stroke, its causes and consequences, plus how to care for a person who has survived a stroke, take a look at the infographic below from Home Care Plus (

What You Need to Know About Stroke
What You Need to Know About Stroke

Working together to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes

Working together to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes. 1 of every 3 deaths is caused by heart disease and stroke. Health care costs for heart attack and stroke: $312.6 billion. Leading cause of preventable death in people 40–65 years of age. 2 million plus heart attacks and strokes each year. To prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes, health care professionals and public health workers should do what we know works: Focus on the ABCS: Aspirin when appropriate; Blood pressure control; Cholesterol management; Smoking cessation. Use health IT: Use electronic health records and other health IT to identify patients who need support to improve their ABCS and then track their progress over time. Use team-based care: Use clinical innovations, including: Use everyone who interacts with patients to the top of their skills and license; Self-measured blood pressure monitoring with clinical support; Reward and recognize excellence in the ABCS. By doing what we know works, health care professionals, health care systems, and public health organizations can help prevent 1,000,000 heart attacks and strokes and meet these goals by 2017: 47 percent to 70 percent increase in aspirin use for secondary prevention; 46 percent to 70 percent increase in blood pressure control; 33 percent to 70 percent increase in cholesterol management; 23 percent to 70 percent increase in help for those who want to quit smoking; 20 percent reduction in sodium consumption; 50 percent reduction in trans-fat consumption. For more information on effectiveness of team-based care, visit:,, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Q&A on Epilepsy with Professor Martin Brodie

Although epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in the UK, over a quarter of epilepsy patients say they experience stigma as a result of the condition. Experts warn that the resulting psychological impact can be just as damaging as the seizures themselves.

We are delighted to present a detailed introduction to the subject of epilepsy in the form of a Q&A session with internationally renowned epilepsy expert Professor Martin Brodie.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – What, actually, is epilepsy?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – . It’s the most complicated question because it’s a lot of different things and the bottom line is it’s a condition where people get unprovoked seizures that is seizures with no obvious provocation that you can then prevent and therefore prevent the actual seizures and the causes are thousands and thousands, anything that can affect the brain.

In about two thirds of cases there is an anatomical cause, sometimes we can see it on the scan increasingly so, sometimes not. In a third it’s due to low seizure threshold with a genetic component that may not be familiar in some situations that is a singular genetic mutation. In others it’s polygenetic and there’s a lot of different genes involved and so you can have seizures from infancy, from when you were born until when you are in old age and the commonest time now to develop epilepsy is in later life. With over 3% of over 80’s having seizures because they will have a possibility of things like strokes, vascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, dementia and all of these can result in seizures.

The interesting thing is not everybody gets the seizures and you know if you’re looking at say people with brain tumours which is an obvious cause of seizures for me the interesting question for me is not why 10% of people get seizures but why do the other 90% not get seizures, and so what we can see we don’t know the cause of we can get some idea of the possible mechanisms but the actual specific mechanism that the actual individual has is not available to us so therefore we cannot just pick the best drug we have to try the drugs out and try different drugs.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – Are there any clear symptoms of Epilepsy?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – Well it depends on the type of Epilepsy that you have, sometimes in children they can stare straight ahead and miss stuff at school, sometimes the hands can jerk and jump or people can fall, sometimes they can stare into space and turn their head and look away and these are focal seizures and of course the severe ones where you fall down, jerk and shake all over, bite your tongue and don’t breathe during it, these are the tonic chronic seizures so there are lots of different types.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – And what are the long term struggles with the condition?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – About two thirds of patients we can actually prevent the seizures with reasonable doses of medication and for many of these people after 6 months or a year they can get their driving licence back, you can get employment although there is still stigma against that and you can live a pretty normal life, you know you can’t fly an aeroplane but there’s a lot of other things that you can reasonably do. Unfortunately about a third of people that we don’t fully control the seizures and there it’s really life changing and these people don’t drive, they often have difficulty getting employment and I’m sure my two colleagues can tell you better than me how it effects their lives.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – Ok and what is idiopathic generalized epilepsy?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – There are three main causes of idiopathic generalized epilepsy are the absence seizures usually in children and teenagers where they stare straight ahead, myoclonic seizures where their body jerks and then the tonic chronic seizures. The international league against epilepsy has brought out a new classification and I was actually on the body that did that so that we can get away from these terms that no one understands and doesn’t make any sense, so we are now talking about focal epilepsy where the problem is in one part of the brain or genetic epilepsy where there is a lower seizure threshold and there’s a malfunction so the idiopathic generalized epilepsy are the genetic epilepsy.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – And are there any other different types of epilepsy other than those that you have mentioned?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – Well there are few rarer types in kids who have these seizures often with single gene mutations affecting the function of the brain, in older people there are a group of conditions called progressive myoclonic epilepsy which again are also single genes although there may be different genes and this causes jerking and seizures and often people can’t even walk because of the severity of it so really anything that can affect the brain as well firstly produce seizures and they are often different.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – Ok and I was going to ask what the relationship between autism and epilepsy is?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – Autistic spectrum disorder is what we now call it as we realised its most things it’s not just one problem and I’m not involved in that area although we have patients coming to my clinic who have this problem and this is sort of a malfunction in the brain where the brain doesn’t fully function but if you actually do a brain scan it looks normal it just doesn’t function and a number of patients with autism also have seizures and that’s why they come to me otherwise they get sent to a specialist who works within that area and people with autism can be very intelligent or they can be not intelligent and again that can be one of the reasons to why it’s called Autistic spectrum disorder because the term covers different disorders.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – Ok are there any other conditions where comorbidity with epilepsy is common?

PROFESSOR MARTIN BRODIE – Yes any condition that effects the brain can be associated with seizures because seizures are evidence of brain dysfunction, so is depression, so is anxiety, anything that can affect the brain and many patients who have epilepsy also have one or other of these other symptoms, about a third of patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy also have depression or anxiety to a degree, about a half of patients with difficulties to control the epilepsy have psychiatric comorbidity because if you think about it these are all symptoms of brain dysfunction so it’s not surprising if the brains not working terribly well if they have different symptoms and the more of these symptoms that you have the more difficult the seizures are to control and we do try to control the other symptoms with the other medication and some of my drugs actually work for depression, some of them make depression worst so there is a pharmacological overlap between all these conditions that are associated with brain dysfunction.

Noncommunicable diseases prematurely take 16 million lives annually

Lupus Awareness Month
Lupus Awareness Month
Urgent government action is needed to meet global targets to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and prevent the annual toll of 16 million people dying prematurely—before the age of 70 – from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes, according to a new World Health Organization report.

“The global community has the chance to change the course of the NCD epidemic,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, who today launched the Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2014. “By investing just US$1-3 dollars per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs. In 2015, every country needs to set national targets and implement cost-effective actions. If they do not, millions of lives will continue to be lost too soon.”

The report states that most premature NCD deaths are preventable. Of the 38 million lives lost to NCDs in 2012, 16 million or 42% were premature and avoidable – up from 14.6 million in 2000.

Nearly five years into the global effort to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025, the report provides a fresh perspective on key lessons learned.

Premature NCD deaths can be significantly reduced through government policies reducing tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, and delivering universal health care. For example, in Brazil the NCD mortality rate is dropping 1.8% per year due in part to the expansion of primary health care.

But the report calls for more action to be taken to curb the epidemic, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where deaths due to NCDs are overtaking those from infectious diseases. Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths (28 million), and 82% of the 16 million premature deaths, occur in low- and middle-income countries.

“Best buys” to reduce the burden

The WHO report provides the baseline for monitoring implementation of the Global action plan for NCDs 2013-2020, aimed at reducing the number of premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025. Outlined in the action plan are nine voluntary global targets that address key NCD risk factors including tobacco use, salt intake, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and harmful use of alcohol.

“Our world possesses the knowledge and resources to achieve the nine global NCD targets by 2025,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “Falling short of the targets would be unacceptable. If we miss this opportunity to set national targets in 2015 and work towards attaining our promises in 2025, we will have failed to address one of the major challenges for development in the 21st century.”

The report provides “best buy” or cost-effective, high-impact interventions recommended by WHO, including banning all forms of tobacco advertising, replacing trans fats with polyunsaturated fats, restricting or banning alcohol advertising, preventing heart attacks and strokes, promoting

breastfeeding, implementing public awareness programmes on diet and physical activity, and preventing cervical cancer through screening. Many countries have already had success in implementing these interventions to meet global targets.

Examples of regional and country “best buy” successes listed in the report:
• Turkey was the first country to implement all the “best-buy” measures for tobacco reduction. In 2012, the country increased the size of health-warning labels to cover 65% of the total surface area of each tobacco product. Tobacco taxes now make up 80% of the total retail price, and there is currently a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship nationwide. As a result, the country saw a 13.4% relative decline in smoking rates from 2008 to 2012.
• Hungary passed a law to tax food and drink components with a high risk for health, such as sugar, salt and caffeine. A year later, 40% of manufacturers changed their product formula to reduce the taxable ingredients, sales decreased 27% and people consumed 25-35% fewer products.
• Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Mexico and the USA have promoted salt reduction in packaged foods and bread. Argentina has already achieved a 25% reduction in the salt content of bread.

Working on the ground in more than 150 countries, WHO is helping develop and share “best buy” solutions so that they can be implemented more widely. WHO is also helping countries understand the dimensions that influence NCDs outside the health sector, including public policies in agriculture, education, food production, trade, taxation and urban development.

Meeting global targets

Though some countries are making progress towards the global NCD targets, the majority are off course to meet the 2025 targets. While 167 countries have operational NCD units in the ministry of health, progress on other indicators has been slow, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

As of December 2013[1] only:
• 70 countries had at least one operational national NCD plan in line with the Global NCD action plan
• 56 countries had a plan to reduce physical inactivity
• 60 countries had national plans to reduce unhealthy diets
• 69 countries had a plan to reduce the burden of tobacco use
• 66 countries had a plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol
• 42 countries had monitoring systems to report on the nine global targets
NCDs impede efforts to alleviate poverty and threaten the achievement of international development goals. When people fall sick and die in the prime of their lives, productivity suffers. And the cost of treating diseases can be devastating – both to the individual and to the country’s health system.

From 2011-2025, cumulative economic losses due to NCDs under a “business as usual” scenario in low- and middle-income countries is estimated at US$ 7 trillion. WHO estimates the cost of reducing the global NCD burden is US$ 11.2 billion a year: an annual investment of US$ 1-3 per capita.

High rates of death and disease, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are a reflection of inadequate investment in cost-effective NCD interventions. WHO recommends all countries move from commitment to action, by setting national targets and implementing the “best buy” interventions starting in 2015.