Blood clots to be topic of seminar on Saturday

The problem of "blood clots" may conjure up mental images of older patients being wheeled out of surgery.

But that's not the only group at risk. Potentially deadly blood clots can affect anyone, even seemingly invincible NASCAR drivers.

Driver Brian Vickers, 26, recently disclosed that he suffers from clots, including deep vein thrombosis in his left leg and clots in both lungs. He had complained of chest pains and breathing problems before being hospitalized. The condition is sidelining him for the rest of the racing season.

A free seminar Saturday will highlight how to prevent, treat and manage this life-threatening condition. The Blood Clot Awareness and Prevention Seminar is being presented by Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast and Mecklenburg Medical Group. Patients, their families, health care providers and the public are invited to the seminar from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Embassy Suites Charlotte-Concord Resort and Spa in Concord.

Vickers' visibility may make people more aware of the critical nature of blood clots, said Tina Hipp, one of the seminar organizers and a team leader with the anticoagulation clinic at CMC-NorthEast.

"We've had patients in their 20s, computer programmers who sit at the desk for eight to 10 hours a day," Hipp said. Now they have to take medicines to control their clotting conditions.

They, Vickers and others, including young and older athletes, share a common denominator: They may get dehydrated and sit for long periods (at a desk, in a driver's seat, on a team travel bus). Their lack of mobility, under certain circumstances, can increase the risk and lead to blood clots.

Some other risk factors include surgery, illness, air travel and genetic makeup. Blood clots contribute to at least 100,000 deaths a year in this country, and 25 a day in North Carolina. Many of the afflicted, representing all age groups, could be saved if they become aware of the signs and know measures to prevent them, Hipp said.

Leading experts will speak Saturday, including Dr. David Miller, a hematologist with Mecklenburg Medical Group, and Dr. Douglas Kelling of Concord Internal Medicine. Michael Hefron will speak from the perspective of a patient who had to learn how to live with blood clots.