Belt and braces approach may prevent deep vein thromboses

Oct 08, 2008

Combining short periods of leg compression with medications such as heparin is more effective at preventing blood clots in high-risk patients than using either preventative measure alone. A team of Cochrane Researchers believe that this 'belt and braces' approach can significantly decrease a patient's risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DVT can be fatal if the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). They can also cause severe leg swelling and ulcers – a condition known as post-thrombotic syndrome.

While DVTs have grabbed media attention when they occur in people who have sat in cramped conditions (e.g. economy class syndrome), they are much more common in patients undergoing surgery, hospitalised with severe illnesses or with leg fractures. Most occur in the legs. Healthcare providers often recommend anticoagulant medications such as heparin, which thin the blood, as preventative measures for patients at high risk of DVT. Alternatively, using a pump to inflate an airtight bag around the leg can also prevent blood "pooling" and reduce the risk.

By analysing data from eleven trials involving 7,431 patients, Cochrane Researchers found that a combined approach to prevention reduced the risk of DVT from 4 in 100 to less than 1 in 100 when compared to anticoagulants alone. When compared to compression alone, the risk of DVT was reduced from 4 in 100 to 1 in 100.

"Our results support guidelines that already recommend the combined use of medication and leg compression to prevent deep vein blood clots," says lead researcher, Stavros Kakkos of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.

There is, however, still some uncertainty as to whether the combined approach reduces a patient's risk of a life-threatening pulmonary embolism caused by a clot travelling to the lungs.

"If these clots get into the lungs they can be fatal. We urgently need more studies to find out whether combined preventative approaches are also useful in preventing pulmonary embolism," says Kakkos.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Death in the long grass: Myanmar's snake bite menace

Jun 11, 2014

Swaying with the hypnotic rhythm of the king cobra rearing up in front of him, Myanmar snake charmer Sein Tin feels protected from the venomous kiss of his dancing partner by an intricate array of "magical" ...

Stoats make a splash

Sep 16, 2013

Stoats are generally considered capable of swimming up to about 1.5km, but the discovery of a stoat on Rangitoto Island (3 km offshore) in 2010, and another on Kapiti (5 km offshore) in 2011 suggested they ...

Why men and women handle stress differently

Feb 27, 2013

Men and women handle stress differently. Most people probably would agree with that statement, but researchers at Michigan Technological University are pinpointing the physiological reasons behind what is, ...

Recommended for you

Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

2 hours ago

President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He also discouraged the traditional burial practice ...

Gluten-free diet benefits asymptomatic EmA+ adults

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Asymptomatic individuals with endomysial antibodies (EmA) benefit from a gluten-free diet (GFD), according to a study published in the September issue of Gastroenterology.

Another US health worker infected with Ebola

3 hours ago

A third American health worker has tested positive for the Ebola virus while working with patients in West Africa, the Christian missionary group SIM said Tuesday.

UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

5 hours ago

The international group Doctor Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is 'losing the battle' against Ebola, while U.N. officials implored all countries to quickly step up their response by contributing health experts ...

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

9 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

User comments : 0