A 14 year old, otherwise healthy boy, was admitted to the hospital in May of 2011 and again the following November due to a pulmonary embolism. The boy, grandson of Suwanee resident Dr. Atul Laddu, was treated immediately for the condition and cured. But, while sitting by his grandson Rajan Laddu’s bedside, Dr. Laddu and his wife realized that although pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis were very serious, life-threatening conditions, there was not much awareness of them in the community.
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According to Dr. Laddu, Thrombosis has alarming statistics:
- Pulmonary embolism, a form of thrombosis, affects over 600,000 people in the US annually.
- Half of those affected die.
- More people die from thrombosis in the U.S. each year than from breast cancer and AIDS combined.
- One person dies from a blood clot every 6 minutes.
- Deaths due to pulmonary embolism in the U.S. are as high as 300,000 per year.
- Pulmonary embolism is the leading cause of maternal death associated with childbirth.
- Estimates from The American Heart Association indicate the total economic burden of illness associated with DVT and PE to reach between $5-8 billion annually—an average $20,000 per treated patient per year.
Dr. Laddu formed the Georgia Group of Volunteers (GGV), who serve as part of the North American Thrombosis Forum (NATF), in order to help the citizens of Georgia overcome and prevent these deadly conditions. Dr. Laddu works with high school students, mentoring them through this volunteer program, teaching leadership skills such as communication and outreach.
Two of Dr. Laddu’s students, Sneha Divan and Rohan Regae, gave us insight into their work for the organization, as well as information about deadly thrombotic conditions.
Interview Questions Conducted by: Rahul Rege
Please tell us about your group and the main objectives?
Sneha: Our group, the GGV is a group dedicated to assisting and enhancing the mission of NATF. Our unique youth-centered advocacy group works to spread awareness for thrombosis in the state of Georgia and network with other organizations involved in thrombosis. We engage in a wide variety of activities, such as lectures and booths in order to spread the message that thrombosis is a silent killer.
Since your group is associated with spreading awareness about thrombosis, can you tell us what a ‘thrombus’ is and how it is formed?
Rohan: Periods of long inactivity can lead to the formation of a blood clot, which is called a ‘thrombus’. A thrombus is a perfectly natural response to an injury toward the healing process, but if this clot gets into a normal blood vessel, it can obstruct the blood flow, and more seriously, travel through the veins to the lungs or the heart, resulting in an embolus, a condition that can be fatal.
Can you tell us something more about thrombotic disorders as events consisting of DVT, PE, MI, or stroke?
Sneha: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot occurs in internal, deep veins, usually in the legs. Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the migration of a clot from another part of the body to the lungs. Myocardial infarction (MI) also known as a heart attack, occurs when a clot occurs in a coronary artery (an artery that is responsible to supply blood to the heart). A stroke is the result of a clot in the brain.
What are the symptoms of being affected by this condition? What do patients generally complain of?
Sneha: Both Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary embolism (PE) have a fairly long list of possible systems, but usually only a few apply to each patient. For DVT, the main symptoms are swelling, pain, discoloration, or tenderness in one or both legs, leg fatigue, warm skin or visible surface veins.
Rohan: Symptoms of PE include sudden coughing, sharp chest pains, coughing up blood, and shortness of breath. Rapid pulse and excessive sweating are also symptoms to look for. In some cases, the patient may feel faint or end up losing consciousness.
How do you treat these conditions?
Sneha: In a nutshell, treatments include certain types of drugs such as anticoagulants and aspirin. To help minimize risk, people can make other lifestyle improvements, such as: taking the time to walk or stretch their legs, drinking plenty of water and reducing sodium in their diets.
What would be some of the take home messages from this?
Sneha: The most important thing is that thrombosis is a silent killer and can cause many negative impacts on daily life. Prevention, through keeping in motion and increasing blood flow, is the better alternative to treatments after the condition.
Rohan: Thrombosis can be fatal. It occurs in all age groups. You should know the risk factors and the symptoms. If you think that you have thrombosis, seek medical attention immediately.
Volunteering through the GGV has allowed students to raise community awareness of thrombosis in order to hopefully decrease incidence and fatality rates. The students have also been able to hone their presentation skills, set up and manage booths, meet and interact with different dignitaries, plan events, visit the GA Senate floor and work closely with Georgia Senator Renee Unterman, Chairperson of the Health and Human Services. For more information, please visit www.natfonline.com