Irish Independent - Health & Living - - FOOD MATTERS -

Pa­tients can pro­tect them­selves from blood clots by:

• Ask­ing for VTE [deep vein throm­bo­sis] risk assess­ment on ad­mis­sion to hos­pi­tal.

• Ask­ing for a ‘Blood Clot Alert Card’.

• Walk­ing and mov­ing as much as pos­si­ble to keep blood flow­ing.

• Drink­ing plenty of flu­ids to avoid de­hy­dra­tion.

• If di­rected to use stock­ings or med­i­ca­tion, fol­low­ing in­struc­tions ex­actly.

• Re­mem­ber­ing that a clot can form up to 90 days af­ter be­ing in hos­pi­tal.

• Tak­ing im­me­di­ate ac­tion to seek med­i­cal help if any signs or symp­toms present.

Source: throm­bo­sisire­land.ie

to hos­pi­tal,” says Joan. “We im­me­di­ately drove down there but it was too late, and I can­not de­scribe the hor­ror that un­folded when we were in­formed of his death.

“But the con­sul­tant ex­plained that Niall de­vel­op­ing a DVT [deep vein throm­bo­sis] was such an ex­tra­or­di­nary rare oc­cur­rence in such afi­tand­healthyy­oung man that the need for the aware­ness was not high­lighted to him.”

DVT can af­fect both the young and old and in re­cent weeks the HSE has launched a new aware­ness cam­paign to highlight the fact that 11,000 peo­ple are af­fected by blood clots every year in Ire­land —and they are the big­gest cause of pre­ventable deaths. The cam­paign in­cludes the dis­tri­bu­tion of pa­tient alert cards. a na­tional re­port and ‘tool­kit’ to as­sist hos­pi­tals in pre­vent­ing blood clots.

Ciara Kirke, HSE clin­i­cal lead for med­i­ca­tion safety, says aware­ness of the dan­gers will help to save lives. “At least 60pc of blood clots hap­pen dur­ing or af­ter a hos­pi­tal stay,” she says. “Up to 70pc of th­ese may be pre­ventable. The HSE has been mak­ing great strides — teams in 27 hos­pi­tals have im­proved blood clot pre­ven­tion, re­sult­ing in 34,000 more pa­tients get­ting the cor­rect pre­ven­tion per year.

“Over 100 health­care pro­fes­sion­als at­tended train­ing and par­tic­i­pated in im­prove­ment projects lo­cally and the HSE has pub­lished a na­tional re­port high­light­ing the huge amount of learn­ing from this project, along with a tool­kit and pa­tient alert cards which are be­ing distributed to hos­pi­tals to build on this suc­cess.”

While this is all pos­i­tive news, it is cold com­fort to Joan and Wal­ter and their other chil­dren — Damian, Shane and Linda.

“We find it very hard to cope with and ac­cept the cir­cum­stances of Niall’s death,” ad­mits Joan. “His main am­bi­tion was to fin­ish col­lege and pur­sue a ca­reer in law, which we have no doubt he would have ex­celled at. Sadly, all of this was taken away from him by his un­timely death and this has left a huge void in our lives and also for his wide cir­cle of friends. No words can de­scribe the trau­matic ef­fect of los­ing Niall — and this will con­tinue for many years to come.”

On Novem­ber 30, 2012, an in­quest was held into Niall Comer­ford’s sud­den death and the coroner recorded “acute car­diac ar­rest, pul­monary em­bolism re­sult­ing from a DVT in calf of his left leg fol­low­ing re­cent history of surgery”.

Niall’s griev­ing mother is shar­ing her story be­cause she be­lieves it is vi­tal for peo­ple to be made aware of the fact that blood clots can af­fect pa­tients of any age.

“We can­not change the past — we have lost our son and wish to God we hadn’t — but the fu­ture can be changed,” she says. “Con­sul­ta­tion, in­for­ma­tion and the cre­ation of aware­ness are the key fac­tors in the pre­ven­tion of deep vein throm­bo­sis and pul­monary em­bolism, which is the cause of so many un­nec­es­sary deaths.

“And if Niall did not fit the pro­file of be­ing a can­di­date for a blood clot, then it is time that we stopped pro­fil­ing pa­tients and looked at ev­ery­one as a po­ten­tial can­di­date for de­vel­op­ing a DVT.

“The death of our son should be the ex­am­ple and rea­son for do­ing this. For some he might be just a statis­tic, but to us he was and al­ways will be our son Niall.”

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