University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Cushman & Hematology Faculty Promote Greater Understanding of Deep-Vein Thrombosis

Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc.
Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., Professor of Medicine and Director, Thrombosis and Hemostasis Clinic

Each year, between 300,000 and 600,000 Americans are affected by deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of blood clot that forms in a major vein of the leg or, less commonly, in the arms, pelvis, or other large veins in the body. March is National Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month and several University of Vermont/Fletcher Allen Health Care clinicians are sharing their knowledge about the condition through social media, a March 24 public educational event, national media interviews, and a recent publication in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. 

DVTs can quickly turn deadly when they detach and travel to the lungs, blocking blood flow in what is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PE and other DVT-related complications take the lives of approximately 60,000 to 100,000 Americans each year, and approximately five to eight percent of the U.S. population has one of several genetic risk factors for this condition.

Community education efforts help improve awareness of DVT
Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine, director of the thrombosis and hemostasis clinic, and a DVT awareness advocate, secured a proclamation from Governor Peter Shumlin that recognizes March as Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month in Vermont. On March 17, Cushman participated in a series of radio show interviews on behalf of the American Society of Hematology to discuss DVT and help listeners across the country understand and manage and recognize these life-threatening blood clots. Her interview with New York City station WHCR-FM’s Audrey Adams airs on “The Adams Report” program on March 18, 2014, from 6 to 7 p.m. Cushman was also interviewed by reporters at WYYZ-AM Atlanta, Ga., WFIN-AM Toledo, Ohio, North Caroline News Network, and WAMD-AM/WJSS-AM Baltimore, Md.

On Monday, March 24, 2014, UVM/Fletcher Allen is hosting a free educational program on blood clots featuring a panel of faculty experts who will provide an overview of risks for and symptoms of DVT and other dangerous blood clots. The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Sullivan Classroom in the Medical Education Center at the UVM College of Medicine. Following the presentation there will be an informal meeting regarding the formation of a Fletcher Allen DVT Patient Support Group. Capacity is limited to the first 120 participants.  Registration is available through March 20th online or via email to VCCEvents@VtMedNet.org.

A recent post on Fletcher Allen’s Healthsource blog by Fletcher Allen hematologist Margaret Kennedy, M.D., provides facts about DVT.

Researchers work to pinpoint which individuals are most at risk
A recent online Circulation study authored by Neil Zakai, M.D., associate professor of medicine and hematologist, Cushman, and colleagues from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Minnesota, aimed to determine whether there was an association between race and risk factors for venous thromboembolism (VTE or DVT). The group performed an assessment of VTE incidence in black and white participants from three major studies – the Cardiovascular Health Study, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, and the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, which collectively include long-term follow-up data for 51,149 individuals.

Zakai and his coauthors concluded that “the association of race with VTE differed in each cohort, which may reflect the different time periods of the studies and/or different regional rates of VTE,” and determined that “further study of environmental and genetic risk factors for VTE are needed to determine which underlie racial and perhaps regional differences in VTE.”

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders, commemorates DVT Awareness Month each March as part of its mission to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of blood disorders and support the research, clinical advances, and policies that seek to improve quality of life for those suffering from blood clots. Cushman regularly serves as a blood clot experts on behalf of ASH. For more information about DVT, visit www.hematology.org.

The American Society for Hematology contributed information for this article.