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Public health agency cautions about blood clots

Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued an advisory to hospitals, stating that more lives could be saved if medical professionals diagnosed and treated blood clots in the legs and lungs more quickly.

According to a BBC report, NICE is urging hospitals in England and Wales to test for blood clots within 24 hours of identifying symptoms. The report says blood clots in the legs or lungs affected more than 56,000 people in England last year, although the likelihood of undiagnosed cases probably makes the actual number even higher.

Hospital patients can be at particular risk of blood clots, because of their extended periods of relative immobility. Recent surgery is another risk factor, as is pregnancy.

While most birth control pills can increase the risk of blood clots, some carry a significantly higher risk. Numerous studies indicate that pills with the compound drospirenone – including Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella – carry up to three times the risk of potentially deadly blood clots compared with other types of oral contraceptive on the market.

According to the BBC, clots in the leg can cause long-term pain, severe swelling and even disability. And they can be fatal if they dislodge and travel to the lungs. The report says clots were recorded as being a factor in 17,000 deaths in England and Wales in 2007.

Hospitals in England are now obliged to check all patients for the risk of developing blood clots. NICE is advising all hospitals to offer blood tests and an ultrasound scan within 24 hours of a patient reporting symptoms, and ideally within four hours.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Beyaz lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries while on Beyaz or similar birth control pills.

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