Old age and VTE

Age is the main risk factor of thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

Most VTE patients in developed countries are over 65 years of age. As a person gets older, the severity of VTE also increases i.e. the venous thrombosis will be more frequent and more extensive, especially if the disease starts with lung embolism.

Pulmonary emboli in older people tend to be more severe than in the young.

The same pulmonary embolism could display very few symptoms in a 30-year old, and be very serious in a patient of 80 years of age, who suffers from a heart or a lung condition.

As a person gets older, the severity of VTE also increases i. e. the venous thrombosis will be more frequent and more extensive, especially if the disease starts with a lung embolism and these pulmonary emboli in older patients tend to be more severe than in young people.

Immobilization, an important risk

In old age patients the main triggering factor of VTE is  prolonged immobilization, usually related to degenerative osteoarticular processes, loss of secondary forcesor brain stroke, and often with dementia.

Elderly patients with VTE often suffer from associated chronic diseases making VTE diagnosis difficult, at times. Symptoms sometimes overlap and are confused or misinterpreted which may worsen their prognosis.

Treatments with anticoagulant drugs present a much higher risk of bleeding complication in these patients. The doctor must always consider this condition when prescribing drugs.

 

However, being an elderly person, even at a very advanced age, should never be a reason to not use anticoagulant drugs. In all cases the risk/benefit of the use of these drugs should be assessed individually.

Prevention is essential in the elderly who run the risk of suffering VTE, usually by administering subcutaneous injections of low molecular weight heparin.

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