SINGAPORE: Data on the prevalence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) shows that occurrence of the condition is on an increasing trend in Singapore.
DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, commonly in the lower leg, and could potentially be fatal.
It can occur as a result of sitting for long periods of time or medical conditions such as cancer and heart failure. Symptoms include severe pain and swelling in one leg.
Data from the Singapore General Hospital showed that in 2002—2003, there were 109,217 total patient admissions, of which 495 had acute DVT.
Compared to 1989—1990, the number of patients admitted with acute DVT annually increased by 456; in 1989—1990, there were 48,864 admissions, of which 39 had acute DVT.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s anti—coagulation service has also seen an increase of patients with DVT over the past three years, from 125 patients in 2009 to 167 patients in 2011. From January to July this year, there are 87 patients.
Dr Ng Heng Joo from the Singapore General Hospital’s Department of Haematology said: "The main danger with DVT is its propensity to break off and travel to the lungs, whereby it becomes a condition called pulmonary embolism.
"Once it occurs, it blocks off the blood supply and blood circulation in the lungs and can potentially be fatal to patients."
Dr Ng said that although long—haul flights are known to be a moderate risk for developing DVT, its overall contribution is slight. He added there is no proven relationship between DVT and long working hours.
Dr Ng also said the rise in the number of DVT cases may be due to an ageing population and greater awareness among clinicians on the risks of DVT.
The data was presented at the launch of a new drug for the treatment of DVT and the prevention of a recurrence of the condition.
Unlike current treatment approaches to DVT, the oral drug does not require injections or infusions, potentially freeing up hospital beds.
Dr Alexander Cohen from King’s College Hospital in London said: "This drug is a significant improvement because it results in a reduction in blood clots, just like the old therapies, without any of the complications and allows people to be treated as outpatients much more easily.
"It should free up more hospital beds and it should also allow patients to be managed more carefully in the community and less so in the hospital setting."
Current treatment of the condition with blood thinners traditionally requires patients to be admitted for infusions or injections. Patients may also have to stay in the hospital longer for blood monitoring.
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