February 2021Health tips

Need info on deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms? A new JGH website can help

Looking for reliable and easily accessible information about blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms and blood thinners? A new JGH website has the information you need.

The site, operated by the hospital’s Centre of Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Care (CETAC), contains information about various thrombosis conditions, the medications that are used to treat them, the latest research, recent interviews in the news media with members of the Centre’s team, and much more.

The formation of a blood clot (thrombosis) within the body can result in swelling, cramping, pain or even a life-threatening blockage. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a clot forms in one of the body’s deep veins, usually in one or both legs.

In approximately one of every five cases of deep vein thrombosis, the whole clot or a piece of it travels to the pulmonary arteries (blood vessels in the lungs), resulting in a pulmonary embolism (PE).

Launched at the JGH in 2012, CETAC moved into extensively renovated facilities in 2018 that serve as a unified area for treating and managing blood-clotting disorders and for providing anticoagulation care.

CETAC’s Director, Dr. Susan Kahn, has estimated that on any given day, roughly 60 to 65 per cent of JGH in-patients receive some form of blood-thinning medication, and that about 21,000 visits per year are made to the Anticoagulation and Thrombosis Clinics.

Carla Strulovitch, the Thrombosis Clinical Nurse who is CETAC’s Senior Research Coordinator and Team Leader, says she initially found that when patients met with her, they could not always absorb all of the necessary information they received during their appointment.

She felt that information pamphlets would be a good reference for patients, so a multidisciplinary team was struck to create one booklet about DVT/PE and another on Warfarin, a kind of  blood thinner.

The CETAC team also obtained and distributed other pamphlets with information on various types of blood thinners.

Now that these pamphlets are available, Ms. Strulovitch says she wanted to go a step further, given her passion for patient education.

After proposing that a website be created, she received strong support for its development from Dr. Kahn and from Dr. Maral Koolian, a JGH physician in Internal Medicine and Program Director of Adult Thrombosis Medicine in McGill University’s Division of General Internal Medicine.

“Now that the website is up and running, patients can consult it at their convenience and get into the detailed information at their own pace,” Ms. Strulovitch says.

“Unlike the pamphlets, the website can be updated quickly and easily with the latest medical information.”

Dr. Susan Kahn

Dr. Susan Kahn

Dr. Susan Kahn appointed to WHO’s expert panel on COVID-19

Dr. Susan Kahn, Director of the JGH Centre of Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Care has been appointed to a one-year term on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Technical Expert Panel on Thrombostasis, part of the Advisory Group on Therapeutics Prioritization for COVID-19.

Among the challenges in treating COVID-19 patients is the wide array of effects that the virus induces, including hypercoagulability (the tendency to form blood clots), which is among the areas of Dr. Kahn’s world-renowned expertise.

Dr. Kahn is a Senior Investigator with the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology at the JGH, as well as a Professor of Medicine at McGill University and Co-Director of the Canadian Venous Thromboembolism Research Network (CanVECTOR).

The expert panels are small committees consisting of internationally recognized healthcare leaders. These multidisciplinary bodies provide the WHO with knowledgeable, impartial and timely advice on candidate drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19.

Their recommendations are evaluated in WHO-sponsored platform studies, including trials in hospitalized patients and outpatients, as well as pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis. The Advisory Group’s recommendations will be considered by the Executive Group of the International Steering Committee of the WHO Solidarity Trial.

She notes that the site can also be a valuable resource for nurses in various fields, who sometimes lack a full understanding of deep vein thrombosis, as well as the treatment options and management of pulmonary embolism.

“Studies have shown that when patients have more knowledge about their condition, the odds are better that they’ll be more compliant with their treatment,” Ms. Strulovitch explains. “This also heightens their awareness about changes in their health and when to seek medical advice.

“Research has shown that the result is fewer complications, ultimately supporting our patients’ well-being, with a cost benefit to our healthcare system.”

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