Heart Beat: Blood clot prevention lacking in hospitals

Published: May, 2010

Most of the things that happen in hospitals are necessary and good. A few, like infection and medication mistakes, aren't. A lesser known but equally serious hazard is venous thromboembolism (VTE) — the formation of a blood clot in a vein. The immobility and stress of hospitalization conspire to make blood more likely to clot. Old age, injury, cancer, obesity, and smoking also contribute to the problem.

If the clot stays in the vein in which it forms, it can cause a painful, vein-damaging deep-vein thrombosis. If it breaks away and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be deadly. Each year, more than 200,000 Americans die from a hospitalization-related blood clot.

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