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National Survey Reveals Canadians’ Limited Knowledge about Thrombosis, Risk Factors and Warning Signs

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#KNOWTHROMBOSIS National Survey Reveals Canadians’ Limited Knowledge about Thrombosis, Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Majority of Canadians don’t identify the highest risk factors for blood clots

 Toronto, Ontario (October 11, 2018) – Blood clots, also known by the medical term Thrombosis, are responsible for one-in-four deaths in Canada each year.  Yet, according to the results of the #KNOWTHROMBOSIS Survey, commissioned by Thrombosis Canada*, the majority of Canadians are not aware of the highest risks for the development of blood clots, and are not aware that blood clots can be prevented.  #KNOWTHROMBOSIS is a global campaign to mark Thrombosis Month and World Thrombosis Day, October 13, 2018, and to educate people about the risk factors and warning signs of blood clots.

“The results of #KNOWTHROMBOSIS show a worrisome lack of knowledge about blood clots – the underlying cause of the top three cardiovascular killers in Canada, including heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism,” said Dr. James Douketis, President, Thrombosis Canada, and Director of Vascular Medicine, Staff Physician in Vascular Medicine and General Internal Medicine at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

“Although 86 per cent of Canadians agree that blood clots can cause death, the public is not aware of risk factors and is not able to properly recognize when blood clots may be developing.  Increased awareness of blood clots is needed in an effort to improve the prevention and treatment of this disease and, ultimately, to save lives,” added Dr. Douketis.

Venous thromboembolism (also known as VTE or vein blood clots) occurs when a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the leg travels to the lungs becoming a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism (PE).  VTE is a significant public health problem, affecting about 100,000 Canadians and causing 10,000 deaths each year.  Annually, VTE causes more deaths in Canada than breast cancer, HIV and motor vehicle accidents combined.

Although many vein blood clots are preventable, the #KNOWTHROMBOSIS Survey found that 60 per cent of Canadians say blood clots can’t be prevented or are unsure if blood clots can be prevented.  In addition, when asked about multiple risk factors for blood clots, the majority of Canadians identify the weakest risk factors such as not moving for long periods (54 per cent) and a family history of blood clots (50 per cent), but are less likely to identify the three greatest risk factors, including surgery (30 per cent), cancer (13 per cent) and hospitalization (17 per cent).

Other significant results of the #KNOWTHROMBOSIS Survey include:

#KnowThrombosis Survey Overview

  • 84 per cent of Canadians know that blood clots are a medical condition, yet only half (49 per cent) recognize the medical term for blood clots – Thrombosis;
  • 59 per cent of Canadians are aware of Pulmonary Embolisms (PE), or blood clots that lodge in the lungs
    • Awareness levels range from a low of 52 per cent in Ontario to a high of 70 per cent in Quebec;
  • 43 per cent of Canadians are aware of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot that forms (most often) in the deep veins of the leg
    • Quebec has the lowest knowledge of DVT at 28 per cent; Atlantic Canadians are most familiar with the condition at 53 per cent;
  • 79 per cent of Canadians say they don’t know what a blood clot in the leg (DVT) would feel like;
  • likewise, 86 per cent of Canadians don’t know the signs or symptoms of a blood clot in the lung (PE);
  • Of Canadians who do know the signs of blood clots, the majority identify less severe risk factors (ie. not moving for a long period of time, family history of blood clots) vs. the more serious risk factors (surgery, cancer, and hospital stays);
  • Canadians say high blood pressure (39 per cent) and high blood cholesterol (43 per cent) are significant risk factors of a blood clot, although these are not risk factors;
  • 56 per cent of Canadians recognize that a blood clot in the leg, left untreated, could travel to the lungs; this is significantly lower in Quebec where 51 per cent are unaware that a clot in the leg could travel to the lungs.

“It’s reassuring that the large majority of Canadians recognize that blood clots can cause death, but there is a wide range of assumptions and misinformation about the risks associated with blood clots and prevention,” said Dr. Vicky Tagalakis, Associate Professor and Director, Division of Internal Medicine, McGill University.  “As medical professionals, we have to be vigilant in elevating public understanding about thrombosis to a level where it is widely recognized as a risk to one’s health, much the same as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke are.”

#KNOWTHROMBOSIS – Know the Warning Signs

The warning signs of a DVT in the leg may include: pain, tenderness, swelling, warmth and redness.  The warning signs of PE may include: unexplained shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain (may be worse with deep breathing), rapid heart rate, and light-headedness or passing out.  For more information on blood clots, visit www.thrombosiscanada.ca.  Patients are also encouraged to share their personal experiences at #KNOWTHROMBOSIS.

@ThrombosisCan (www.ThrombosisCanada.ca)

Thrombosis Canada comprises a membership that includes the most eminent and internationally recognized thrombosis experts globally.  Members have made many significant contributions to the body of knowledge in vascular medicine and disseminated that knowledge through hundreds of peer-reviewed publications, as well leading the development of international clinical practice guidelines.


Launched in 2014 and held annually on October 13, World Thrombosis Day (WTD) aims to increase awareness of thrombosis among the public, healthcare professionals and health care systems, and ultimately, to reduce deaths and disabilities from thromboembolic disease through a greater awareness of its causes, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and evidence-based prevention and treatment.  WTD’s mission supports the World Health Assembly’s global target of reducing premature deaths by non-communicable disease by 25 per cent by 2025, as well as the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the 2013-2020 timeframe.

*The #KNOWTHROMBOSIS online survey of 1,008 adults was conducted across Canada by Environics Research from September 19-23, 2018.  A poll of comparable sample size conducted with a probability sample would yield a margin of error of +/-3.10%, 19 times out of 20.

Thrombosis Canada acknowledges Leo Pharma, Pfizer Injectables and Sanofi Canada for their support of this awareness campaign.

 Medical experts are available in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.  To arrange an interview, contact:

Dianna Eakins on behalf of Thrombosis Canada


(905) 630-4208