Highlighting high risk factors of Thrombosis

By Aimee Walsh

Firhouse woman Ann-Marie O’Neill, the founder of Thrombosis Ireland, is launching a ‘Happy Walk’ for the month of February to help raise awareness and funds for thrombosis.

Thrombosis is the formation of potentially deadly blood clots in the artery or vein. Once formed, a clot can slow or block normal blood flow, and even break loose and travel to an organ.

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Thrombosis Ireland founder Ann Marie O’Neill with the blood clot alert card

Ann-Marie, a survivor of two pulmonary emboli, says now is more important than ever to raise awareness and ensure people know the symptoms of thrombosis, as everyone is experiencing more inactivity due to lockdown than ever before.

“I am trying to raise awareness, if people know about the signs and symptoms then they’ll be safe, but if it is ignored then they could die, that’s how serious it is.” says Ann-Marie.

The ‘Happy Walk’ will take place for the month of February and aims to get people out during lockdown, whilst raising awareness and funds for Thrombosis Ireland.

“With this lockdown, I was looking for a reason to pep people up and get them out walking, because at least if you are getting your blood flow, you are preventing blood clots. I made up a playlist of happy songs, so anybody that registers I will send them on the playlist.

“We did a walk last year, we did 100k and a lot of people said to me that I was ruling out a lot of people, because 100k would scare the living daylights out of most people, so that’s why I said pick your own challenge and maybe fundraise while you’re doing it.”

The four main risk factors of developing thrombosis are going into hospital, cancer, pregnant and post-natal women and immobility.

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“Most people know Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from long haul flights, but it can happen if you are gaming, sitting watching Netflix or just not moving for long periods of time”, Ann-Marie explained.

“There are certain risks that increase your risk of thrombosis. The biggest one is going into hospital – 60% of blood clots happen as a result of going into hospital, and you are still at the same heightened risk 90 days after you get home.

“We developed an alert card, which Tallaght Hospital, The Mater and St James’ Hospital give to people being admitted to hospital, it is in all the VHI Clinics as well. It is an alert card that has all the information and fits into your wallet. If anyone would like one, they can contact me, and I will post it to them.”

Symptoms and signs of thrombosis include swelling and pain in the leg or calf, warmth or redness in the leg, chest pain and breathlessness.

Ann-Marie added, “It could start in your leg and you could develop a sore, swollen leg. If that then breaks off and travels up to your lungs that is when it becomes fatal. We are trying to stop it from getting it to that stage and help people recognise the symptoms.

“It usually happens when you have two risk factors that cross. So, you may be pregnant and take a flight, or you might be in hospital and when you come out may be immobile and take to the bed.

“I need to get into every household and let people know. If people have this little bit of information, it could save lives.”

All the money collected from the ‘Happy Walk’ is going towards an awareness campaign for 2021.

Visit thrombosisIreland.ie for more information or you can register for the happy walk at Happy Walk

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