Air campaign backed by blood clot sufferer.
ASOUTH Wales woman who is prone to developing lifethreatening blood clots is backing a campaign to inform airline passengers about the dangers of deep vein thrombosis. Kate Williams, from Thornhill, Cardiff suffers from a low protein deficiency and rare gene mutation that makes her thousands of times more likely to develop a blood clot. After developing eight blood clots in 17 years, Kate is keen to raise awareness of the danger of thrombosis by supporting an event held at Cardiff Airport today that will mark the first ever World Thrombosis Day. The event will look to encourage passengers to ask their healthcare professional about developing a blood clot and how to avoid them.
It has been launched to change perceptions about risk after research shows that 62% of Welsh people think they are more likely to develop blood clots on an aeroplane than in hospital. In reality, the risk of developing a clot during time spent in hospital is 1,000 times higher than from time spent on an aeroplane. Research estimates that 1,250 people are at risk of death every year in Wales from blood clots that they may develop while they are in hospital. While there is a risk of developing a thrombosis on a long haul flight, two-thirds of blood clots occur in hospital or 90 days following discharge.
The event will encourage passengers to play a part in reducing thrombosis by requesting a risk assessment and taking preventative measures such as staying active. The initiative is part of the national "Ask about Clots" campaign, developed by 1,000 Lives Improvement in Public Health Wales and supported by Lifeblood, the thrombosis charity. Kate, 32, was unaware she could be at risk of a blood clot when she was taking the contraceptive pill aged 16. After developing back pain, she visited her GP and was told she had a kidney infection.
Kate suf- suffered with shortness of breath a few days later and was treated for pleurisy and pneumonia with antibiotics. After three weeks, she developed a severe pain in her leg and struggled to breathe. Kate was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with a blood clot on her lung - also known as a pulmonary embolism - and a deep vein thrombosis in her leg. She was given bloodthinning medicines and was told her clots could have been fatal.
The mum-of-one discovered her genetic disorder two years later when pregnant with her son, Kieran, who is now 13. During the pregnancy, she suf- suffered with symptoms of thrombosis and a second pulmonary embolism was identified. Blood tests revealed that she has a V Leiden Homozygous disorder and Protein S deficiency. Since her diagnosis, Kate has developed five additional deep vein thromboses, with the most recent one occurring after surgery on a broken ankle in 2012. She now knows the symptoms, which ensures she is treated quickly. Kate, who works as a nanny, said: "Supporting the 'Ask about Clots' campaign is really important to me. Suffering with blood clots twice as a teenager was a terrifying experience. Had I known about my risk I would have asked my doctor for an assessment as soon as I developed symptoms.
"Now I'm aware of my condition, I know the signs to look out for and how to reduce my risk. My mum and brother have been diagnosed with a gene that could make them susceptible to clots, so I encourage them to keep active and ensure they are asking their healthcare professional the right questions. "I hope the event will encourage more people to ask about clots - they can affect anybody, at any age, and my story could have been very different if I hadn't been treated quickly." To prevent more people suffering from the life-threatening illness, healthcare professionals from across South Wales will be on hand at the event to provide information to passengers, highlighting the risk of developing a clot, both on and off an aeroplane. "
Most people associate developing a thrombosis with flying, however we know the dangers of developing a blood clot in hospital are much higher," said Dr Graham Shortland, Executive Medical Director at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. "Although there is evidence to show flying long distances can cause a blood clot, we hope the information we're providing will encourage passengers who may be at risk of developing a thrombosis in hospital to ask for an assessment before it is too late. "The 'Ask about Clots' campaign is so important as it educates patients about their risk, so they can ask for an assessment and be given the appropriate treatment. It also encourages both healthcare professionals and patients to be aware of the symptoms. "Thrombosis is a condition that can be prevented and treated if managed at an early stage and this campaign helps as well as a significant amount of other work we are doing in this area." For more information on the campaign, visit www.askaboutclots.co.uk or search #askaboutclots on Twitter.