Elderly people are more affected by thrombosis, a disease that kills one in four people worldwide; hematologist and professor at Unifesp clarifies questions on the subject
Sao Paulo, August 22, 2022 – Considered a global health problem, thrombosis occurs when blood clots, known as thrombi, form in the veins or arteries. As it is a growing disease worldwide, health professionals promote annually, on October 13, World Thrombosis Day, a campaign with the objective of alerting and raising awareness of the dangers of clots. Thrombosis is a dangerous disease, which mainly affects the elderly, but it can be prevented.
Dayse Maria Lourenço, hematologist, professor at the Unifesp School of Medicine (Federal University of São Paulo), explains that there are two types of thrombosis, venous and arterial. “Although both are called thrombosis, because they correspond to the formation of a clot inside the vessels, these thromboses have different formation, origins and causes, so they work like different diseases”, she explains.
Venous thrombosis occurs mainly in the internal veins of the legs, causing pain and swelling in the limbs. This clot can spread to the pulmonary circulation, leading to one of the main complications of the disease, pulmonary embolism, a disease that causes severe damage to the lungs and can be fatal. Venous thrombosis of the legs is characterized by symptoms such as pain and swelling of the limbs. And pulmonary embolism is suspected by the occurrence of chest pain and shortness of breath.
Arterial thromboses usually form in the organs themselves. “The best known arterial thromboses are myocardial infarction (coronary thrombosis) and stroke (cerebrovascular accident, also popularly known as ‘stroke’) which constitutes a thrombosis of the cerebral arteries”, says Dr. Dayse.
Once symptoms appear, it is essential to seek medical help as soon as possible, because the sooner it is treated, the better the patient’s prognosis. However, it is possible to prevent the disease by implementing measures such as adopting a good lifestyle and healthy eating. The doctor also indicates avoiding bad habits, such as smoking and excessive weight gain. In addition, Dr. Dayse says it is important to pay attention to the occurrence of diseases associated with arterial thrombosis, such as high cholesterol and diabetes.
The hematology specialist points out that thrombosis can affect people of all ages, but it is more frequent in the elderly. According to her, aging favors the occurrence of thrombosis, both venous and arterial. “Some situations that are inherent to the elderly individual favor the occurrence of thrombosis, in addition to age itself”, she explains. Dr. Dayse highlights factors such as immobility, sedentary lifestyle and mobility and orthopedic difficulties, common in elderly people.
In addition, it may be more difficult to notice the symptoms of thrombosis in the case of dependent or bedridden elderly people, especially if the patient cannot manage the pain. Therefore, the doctor recommends that the elderly and their companions be aware of shortness of breath, respiratory discomfort and the difference in diameter of one limb in relation to the other, due to possible swelling caused by the disease.
Finally, the treatment of thrombosis in the elderly also requires special care. According to dr. Dayse, after the confirmation of the clinical picture, the patient must receive anticoagulant drugs, always with medical follow-up. The professional should be aware of the risk of bleeding that accompanies the use of medications. “This should always be monitored, as well as kidney function. Attention should be paid to diseases that can facilitate bleeding due to the use of anticoagulants”, concludes the doctor and professor.
About World Thrombosis Day
On October 13th, World Thrombosis Day is celebrated, which aims to raise awareness about thrombosis among health professionals, patients and government and third sector entities. However, we must be alert to this condition every day. Globally, the campaign for this event is led by the International Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis (SITH) and, in Brazil, by medical entities, among which the Brazilian Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis (SBTH) stands out. To learn more, visit https://www.
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