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Fact Sheet: The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

What is a Call to Action?

The Call to Action is a science-based document to stimulate action nationwide to solve a major public health problem. 

Who is the Call to Action for?

The Call to Action urges all Americans to understand the risk factors and triggering events for developing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, to recognize the symptoms, and to work with their health care providers to prevent and treat these potentially fatal conditions. It includes steps for communities (including patients and their families), the health care system, and policymakers and the government.

What are the goals of this Call to Action?

  • Increase awareness among consumers, health care providers, and healthcare administrators about the risk factors, triggering events, and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
  • Develop evidence-based practices for screening, preventing, diagnosing, and treating DVT and pulmonary embolism, especially among high-risk groups, and implement systems to ensure that these practices are routinely applied by medical professionals in all settings.
  • Continue basic, clinical, and epidemiological research on the causes of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism to understand why certain groups are at increased risk and to develop novel treatment and prevention strategies.

Why is the Surgeon General issuing this Call to Action?

  • Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism affect an estimated 350,000 to 600,000 Americans each year and incidence is expected to increase as the U.S. population ages.
  • Together, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are estimated to contribute to at least 100,000 deaths each year.
  • Almost anyone can develop deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.  Individuals with an inherited blood clotting disorder, other risk factors, or who experience a triggering event such as hospitalization, surgery, or long periods of immobility, are more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
  • Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism affects men and women and risk increases with age, especially after age 50. 
  • Women who are pregnant or take hormones (for birth control or menopausal therapy) are at increased risk.
  • African-Americans and Whites are more likely than other ethnic groups to develop a DVT or a pulmonary embolism. African-Americans are estimated to be at 30 percent greater risk compared to Whites.
  • Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism can often be prevented and treated. 

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