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Experts identify VTE as major cause of sudden death among Nigerians

  • as 2019 World Thrombosis Day is commemorated globally


(L-R) Ethical Business Unit Director, Mr Oluwale Akinbowale; Professor of Haematology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof Sulaimon Akanmu, General Manager/Country Chair Nigeria-Ghana Sanofi, Folake Odediran and Head of Business Operations and Support, Sanofi, Mr Abimbola Oshin during the World Thrombosis Day media briefing.

Nigeria joins the rest of the world today to mark the 2019 World Thrombosis Day amid startling revelation that many cases of sudden death being recorded in the country are traceable to thrombosis, a deadly condition caused by the formation of potentially deadly clots (i.e blood that has turned into solid form) within the blood vessel.

When the blood clot forms in the vein, referred to as “Deep Vein Thrombosis” (DVT), part or whole of the clot can detach and travel in the circulation to lodge in the lungs, causing a condition referred to as pulmonary embolism (PE).  Both DVT and PE are collectively referred to as “Venous Thromboembolism” (VTE).

Speaking at a Press Conference to commemorate the day, a Professor of Haematology and Blood Transfusion at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Sulaimon Akanmu disclosed  that thrombosis kills within minutes when it occurs, usually before needed specialised medical intervention is obtained.  And it affects mostly people on hospital admission.

The Press Conference was  organised on Friday October 11, by multinational pharmaceutical company, Sanofi in collaboration with the Nigerian Society of Haematology and Blood Ttransfusion (NSHBT).

Prof. Akanmu disclosed that no fewer than 50% of patients on admission  in Nigerian hospitals could develop thrombosis. Unfortunately,  he said, the condition is not often detected while the patients are alive. Most of the identified cases were detected during post-mortem.

“Sometimes you see a patient that had undergone a successful surgery and even discharged only to drop dead suddenly after a day or two,”  Prof Akanmu said,  revealing that even a prominent Nigerian footballer and former minister had fallen victims of the deadly condition.

It is estimated that thrombosis is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths worldwide and remains a leading cause of mortality in the world.

While the number of deaths in Nigeria from thrombosis cannot be ascertained, the condition is reportedly responsible for 370,000 deaths in Europe, far higher than the number recorded for total number of deaths from AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and traffic accidents combined.

Death from thrombosis can however be prevented. Prof. Akanmu advised people going on hospital admission to always request for a thrombosis risk assessment and if found to be at risk, they should demand for prophylaxis (preventive) treatment.

Also speaking at the media briefing, the General Manager, Nigeria-Ghana Sanofi, Pharm. Folake Odediran said the company had embarked on a massive awareness campaign to address VTE challenge as part of the company’s community social responsibility (CSR).

She disclosed that the process had been integrated into the company’s business strategy to better meet patients’ needs.  The company, she further said, is focusing  on capacity building and  partnership with health care associations to drive awareness on VTE.

Currently, she further said, Sanofi  is launching its ‘VTE Safe Zone programme’ in major health institutions across the country to help improve the care of hospitalized patients and reduce their risk of a VTE.

Highlights of the media briefing

  • VTE is the leading cause of preventable hospital deaths
  • Hospitalization: Up to 60% of all VTEs are hospital associated
  • Hip, Knee surgery
  • Not moving for long periods of time
  • Age (60+)
  • Personal or family history of blood clots
  • Cancer/Chemotherapy
  • Estrogen-based therapy
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy or recent birth
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Request for VTE risk assessment to understand your risk factors
  • Follow all medical orders, take medications as prescribed, and ask questions
  • Ask about options that can help prevent VTE (compression stockings or anti-clotting medication)
  • Get moving to improve circulation


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