Published:

Stop the clot! Raising awareness of thrombosis in pregnancy

Lead researcher: Professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, University College Dublin (UCD)

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The problem

Pregnant women have a higher chance of developing blood clots (thrombosis) in veins that can cause serious health problems and can even be fatal. So, it is important that women who are or could become pregnant and their families are aware of their risk factors and to get medical care quickly if they have signs of a clot.

The project

The HRB (in collaboration with the Ireland East Hospital group, NGO Thrombosis Ireland and Healthy Ireland), jointly funded a roadshow to travel around Leinster on a dedicated bus in late 2019, visiting maternity hospitals, general hospitals and communities (in pharmacies, GP surgeries and libraries) for lectures and events to increase awareness of clots in pregnancy. The project also produced leaflets, ran social media campaigns and appeared in media to widen the reach with information. GAA stars including members of Dublin women’s and men's Gaelic football senior team and the Wexford men’s senior hurling team helped out.

The outcomes
  • The information campaign won the prestigious World Thrombosis Day Event of the Year Award for 2020
  • The hashtag #PregnancyVTE had 1.4 million impressions on social media during the campaign, and the ‘Stop the Clot’ social media accounts had 1.5 million impressions in that time 
  • The campaign was featured in local, national, print and broadcast media
  • More than 10,000 HSE/Thrombosis Ireland VTE alert cards highlighting signs and symptoms of clots in pregnancy were given to healthcare professionals.

Professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, Consultant Haematologist at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital and UCD, says:

“We achieved a huge amount in the six weeks or so of the campaign, and it really was a collaboration between patients, clinicians, hospitals and researchers. By travelling around with the bus, we could reach not only maternity hospitals and general hospitals in the Ireland East Hospital Group region, we also got to meet and talk to people in communities about what we all need to know about clots in pregnancy in order to get pregnant women help quickly if they need it. Winning the World Thrombosis Day award was a big recognition of that.”

KNOW THE RISKS, KNOW THE SIGNS, STOP THE CLOT

If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk of developing a clot that can travel to your lungs and make you and the baby seriously ill. Spotting the signs early and getting medical help quickly can make a big difference. 

To reduce the risk of clots: 

  • Avoid smoking
  • Keep at a healthy weight
  • Tell your doctor if anyone in your family has suffered from a clot before

Get to hospital immediately if you have:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Leg pain or swelling

'Stop the clot! Raising awareness of thrombosis in pregnancy', is part of a wider collection of success stories across four themes from this year's annual Health Research in Action. Download the full publication