Vascular PRN

Rheumatoid Arthritis a Risk Factor for Blood Clots, Study Says, but Compression Therapy Is an Effective Mitigator


Tampa, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/07/2013 -- A recent study supports theories that rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of blood clots in the veins, a potentially hazardous, but manageable, condition.

Researchers in Taiwan found that individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis had a significantly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot, most often in the legs – and pulmonary embolism – a life-threatening condition resulting from a clot dislodging and traveling to the lungs. A type of clot prevention method that is gaining in popularity is compression therapy. Greg Grambor, president of Vascular PRN, a leading distributor of compression therapy equipment, explains how it works.

“Sequential compression devices are inflatable sleeves worn on the lower legs and feet, where most hazardous blood clots form,” Grambor said. “By intermittently inflating and deflating, they gently squeeze the legs, increasing blood flow and reducing the instance of clots. Bedridden patients and those with recent lower-body surgery are the classic candidates for compression therapy, but those with rheumatoid arthritis can certainly benefit as well.”

Researchers analyzed a database containing information on all of Taiwan's over 23 million inhabitants. They tracked 29,238 patients who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. When compared with a control group, they were more than three times as likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and twice as likely to develop a pulmonary embolism (PE). For patients under age 50, the difference was even more stark: a six-fold increase in the risk of DVT and a three-fold increase in the risk of PE.

The most widely-recognized risk factors include advanced age, recent surgery, immobility, obesity, and oral contraceptive use. Blood thinning medication is another leading therapy for those at risk of blood clots.

“Compression therapy has far fewer potential complications than blood thinners,” Grambor added, “and the cost is often lower as well. Staying mobile is another important way to mitigate the risk of clots, but of course, those most at risk suffer from extremely restricted mobility. Compression therapy can be used on virtually anyone.”

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