The success of the first World Thrombosis Day, held October 13, 2014, was a surprise even to many of the organizers and participants, according to a symposium held Sunday afternoon that served as both a recap of what occurred last year and a rally for the 2015 event.

In 2014, the first World Thrombosis Day was truly global, producing more than 450 separate events around the world that generated approximately 158 million media impressions, reported Gary Raskob, chairman of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee. Raskob, who is dean of the College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma, expects this year’s event to be even bigger.

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From left: Beverley Hunt, Pantep Angchaisuksiri, Patricia Casais, Lai Heng Lee, Alexandros Tselepis

The expectation is reasonable. A panel at the Sunday symposium that consisted of organizers of World Thrombosis Day from the United Kingdom, Argentina, Singapore, Greece and Thailand each reported that they were impressed and often unprepared for how much attention they were able to generate by their very first attempt to bring this problem into focus.

“The degree of interest in this topic surprised me,” acknowledged Pantep Angchaisuksiri, chief of the Haemostasis and Thrombosis Unit, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. He recounted that press releases, public and professional educational campaigns and other initiatives developed in Thailand produced prominent coverage by conventional media, including television, as well as enormous traffic in social media.

The issue is likely to have drawn so much attention because the data are compelling. Venous thromboembolism is a leading cause of death worldwide, according to facts and figures now available on the ISTH-sponsored World Thrombosis Day website (worldthrombosisday.org). A more common cause of death than cancer, AIDS, and car accidents combined, thromboembolism accounts for 1 in 4 global deaths and has emerged as one of the most treatable causes of death now that the rate of communicable diseases is diminishing.

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Gary Raskob

World Thrombosis Day will be held every year on October 13, the birthday of Rudolf Virchow, who defined key concepts in hypercoagulability. In the World Thrombosis Day campaign to raise awareness, the focus has been on venous, as opposed to arterial, thromboembolism. While public awareness of myocardial infarction and stroke is relatively high, Raskob cited data suggesting that, in some areas of the world, the risks of such complications as pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis are under appreciated, even by medical professionals.

World Thrombosis Day now has funding from eight corporate sponsors with more anticipated. In a separate panel during the Sunday meeting, three corporate representatives explained that their global commitment includes encouraging their regional affiliates to provide funding at the local level. This funding has been instrumental to the success of local World Thrombosis Day campaigns, according to several clinician panelists. One of these, Patricia Casais, Institute of Epidemiologic Research, National Academy of Medicine, Buenos Aires, Argentina, said all three of the corporate sponsors they approached have agreed to participate.

The experiences in 2014 provided a how-to tutorial for those considering joining the World Thrombosis Day campaign in 2015. Although the ISTH has developed the global concept, it is the regional efforts that make it work.

“This would not be possible without all the efforts of our grass roots partners,” emphasized Raskob.

Beverley Hunt, professor of thrombosis and hematology, King’s College, London, United Kingdom, agreed. Hunt cited data from efforts to increase awareness of hospital-related venous thromboembolism in the United Kingdom that led to measureable reductions in mortality. She suggested that participation in World Thrombosis Day can be a gratifying opportunity to make a difference.

The critical message from the Sunday meeting is that the ISTH, through its World Thrombosis Day website, provides a large array of tools that can be used to develop local campaigns. According to Raskob, downloadable information suitable for public and professional education can kick start initiatives that offer a chance to address a global health problem at the local level.

Individuals and organizations can join the World Thrombosis Day movement at worldthrombosisday.org.

By Ted Bosworth |June 21, 2015