Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - NewsMaker

One-of-a-Kind Women & Blood Clots Web Portal Unveiled

ROCKVILLE, MD -- (Marketwired) -- Aug 18, 2015 -- The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA), in partnership with the Alexandra L. Rowan Memorial Foundation, is launching a new and unique women's health initiative, focused on the continuum of blood clotting risks that confront women throughout their lifetime. Birth control and family planning, pregnancy and childbirth, and the treatment of menopause symptoms all involve crucial choices that can place a woman at increased risk for life-threatening blood clots.

The centerpiece of this new Women & Blood Clots education program involves a distinctive Web portal or microsite -- womenandbloodclots.org -- created by NBCA to focus squarely on the information that women need to know about their potential risk for blood clots.

"While men may have an overall higher risk of developing blood clots, women have a higher risk during their childbearing years and face unique risks that they need to better understand to preserve their health and well-being. A public education campaign focused on women's health and blood clots is long overdue," explains Andra H. James, MD, MPH, an internationally recognized expert in women's health issues related to bleeding and clotting disorders, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Duke Medicine, and, as a member of NBCA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, the medical advisor to NBCA's Women & Blood Clots program.

According to Dr. James, the following factors can increase a woman's risk for blood clots:

  • Estrogen based birth control pills increase a woman's blood clot risk three-fold, and newer forms of the pill, as well as estrogen-based birth control patches and rings, double that risk.
  • Pregnancy increases blood clot risks four-fold, with the greatest risk occurring the week immediately following delivery, when the risk increases to 100-fold.
  • Hormone therapy containing estrogen and used to treat menopause symptoms can increase blood clot risks three-fold.

The Impact of Blood Clots in the United States
Research conducted by the American Public Health Association shows that nearly three-quarters of the public know little or nothing about deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots that form in the deep veins of the legs. Similar NBCA research shows that fewer than 10% of a national sample had any knowledge of DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE), or blood clots in the lungs, and that only 30% of people who did recognize the term "blood clot" were familiar with blood clot signs, symptoms, or risks factors.

"Women are largely unaware that they will encounter some of the major risk factors for blood clots at several important stages in their lives," says Dr. James. "With this new program, NBCA is filling a major information gap, helping women reduce their blood clotting risks and, hopefully, also saving lives."

Each year, up to 900,000 people in the United States are affected by blood clots. About 100,000 of these individuals -- or about 274 people each day -- will die due to a blood clot. In fact, the number of deaths due to blood clots each year is greater than the annual number of deaths due to AIDs, breast cancer, and car accidents combined.

"With the introduction of this Women & Blood Clots program, NBCA is determined to amplify and sustain key public health messages that will enable women to make better-informed decisions and reduce their blood clotting risks," says NBCA Board President Sara Wassenaar, DDS, who lost her daughter, Anna Frutiger, at the age of 23, due to a blood clot in her lung. "Had Anna and our family been more knowledgeable about the risk factors connected to the birth control pills she was taking, as well as the signs and symptoms of blood clots, I feel strongly that her life could have been saved. It's urgent that we do everything we can to reduce the number of young women and families who have to experience this same tragedy and pain."

Program Assets: Collaterals and Community
NBCA's Women & Blood Clots program was created to speak directly to the health interests and health information needs of women. In addition to the Web portal created for this campaign, NBCA is introducing a striking companion infographic and a multi-part video series tailored to address women's blood clot risks and options for risk reduction. To convey these messages in an eye-catching and memorable format, the campaign's creative theme involves a flowering tree, or tree of life, intended to be symbolic of the lifetime of blood clotting challenges women face, and accented by a female bird caricature that, through her nesting status, depicts the life stages associated with family planning, pregnancy, and menopause.

Also, in response to a growing need for patient support groups, NBCA, with support from the Rowan Foundation, will soon be launching the first-ever Stop the Clot® online support group and discussion community, powered by Inspire, to provide a safe and supportive place where women affected by blood clots and clotting disorders can gather to share their stories, exchange information, and interact with each other. This online community is expected to grow to address the broad spectrum of information needs reflected by the overall clotting disorders community, and to include a diverse membership of patients, families, friends, and caregivers.

Research Emphasis
"It's crucial that we sound the alarm and increase awareness of blood clot risks among women, particularly as they relate to decisions they are making today about the use of estrogen-based birth control. This is an area where much more emphasis needs to be placed, in terms of both awareness and research," says David Rowan, head of The Rowan Foundation and father to The Foundation's namesake, Alexandra L. Rowan, who, at the age of 23, lost her life suddenly due to a massive pulmonary embolism or blood clot in her lung.

Together, NBCA and the Rowan Foundation also are planning the implementation of a research initiative intended to improve understanding about the relationship between massive pulmonary embolism and estrogen-based birth control pills.

"NBCA is honored to work with the Rowan Foundation on this important project, and we're so appreciative of the generous contribution they are making to fund this five-year women's health initiative," Dr. Wassenaar says. "We look forward to working closely with them to build awareness nationwide, and to put in place a research effort that will shed light on the deadly link between blood clots and certain birth control methods that contain estrogen."

About NBCA
NBCA is a non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis, and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and clot-provoked stroke. NBCA accomplishes its mission through programs that build public awareness, educate patients and healthcare professionals, and promote supportive public and private sector policy.

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Women's Health Initiative Launches Increase Risk Awareness Reduce Deaths Connected Life-Threatening Blood Clots

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