July/August 2007 Letters to the Editor

| August 10, 2007

Dear Bariatric Times Editor:

It is widely recognized that the nearly one third of Americans who are obese face a myriad of serious health problems, from an increased risk of diabetes to cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and even cancer. However, many physicians fail to recognize obesity as a serious risk factor for an often silent condition that plagues millions of Americans each year—deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).
In fact, up to two million Americans are affected each year by DVT, with up to 600,000 hospitalized. Its primary complication, pulmonary embolism (PE), claims approximately 300,000 lives annually, the majority of which result from a DVT. Abdominal obesity may not only promote blood clotting, but also impair the body’s natural ability to dissolve clots.
According to a recent survey sponsored by the Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis, less than 1 in 4 physicians rate obesity as a very significant risk factor for DVT. As a Steering Committee member of the Coalition to Prevent DVT, these findings are especially telling to me, particularly in light of the lack of awareness of DVT amongst obese individuals. Specifically, the survey found that less than 1 in 10 obese individuals name weight factors/obesity as a common risk factor for DVT, and only seven percent surveyed say their primary care physician has discussed DVT with them.
Announced as part of the Coalition’s DVT Awareness efforts, these survey findings underscore the need for increased awareness of the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of DVT among both the medical community and patients. Having two or more risk factors, such as obesity, certain heart or respiratory diseases, cancer, chemotherapy, or prolonged immobility can put a person at increased risk of DVT. Therefore, identifying and educating at-risk patients can help prevent unneeded complications and save countless lives.
In the case of DVT, a little knowledge can go a long way. Patients who receive early treatment may reduce their chances of developing pulmonary embolism. But treatment cannot reach its fullest potential until this condition is recognized by healthcare professionals and patients alike. For more information about the signs, symptoms and risk factors of DVT, please visit the Coalition to Prevent DVT’s website at www.preventdvt.org.

Best regards,

Franklin A. Michota, MD
Dr. Michota is a Steering Committee Member of the Coalition to Prevent DVT and the Head of the Section of Hospital Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Michota has published and presented nationally on the topics of preoperative evaluation, venous thrombosis, diagnostic testing, congestive heart failure, and hospital medicine.

The Coalition to Prevent DVT’s mission:

To reduce the immediate and long-term dangers of deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (PE), which together comprise one of the nation’s leading causes of death. The Coalition will educate the public, healthcare professionals and policy-makers about risk factors, symptoms and signs associated with DVT, as well as identify evidence-based measures to prevent morbidity and mortality from DVT and PE.

Category: Letters to the Editor, Past Articles

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