31 Jan Can MedTech help address blood clot risk in patients with sodium imbalances?
Hyponatremia and hypernatremia are medical conditions for imbalanced levels of sodium in the blood. These imbalances can increase the risk of life-threatening blood clots (venous thromboembolisms or ‘VTEs’) in hospital patients, especially the elderly and critically ill undergoing surgery.
Hospital acquired VTE is one of the leading causes of death and disability in hospitalised patients. This is often due to a lack of mobility from extended hospital stays which prevents adequate blood flow. When blood cannot circulate optimally, it can begin to clot – putting patients at risk of VTEs.
Identifying the risks
Current standard of care for blood clot prevention recommends drug prophylaxis or intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) – a boot-like cuff that compresses the legs to move blood back to the heart. However, both treatments can be unsuitable for some patients; in fact, 30 percent of patients cannot tolerate VTE standard of care for various reasons, including risk of bleeding if prescribed drug prophylaxis or skin conditions which make IPC too painful or uncomfortable. This leaves many hospital-based patients at risk of developing VTEs.
Moreover, surgical intervention may be delayed if a patient has imbalanced sodium levels. Immobile patients then become increasingly at risk of VTE as they wait for the right sodium levels to be achieved. Healthcare professionals monitor patients’ sodium levels to avoid a VTE event and intervene as needed to help patients reach balanced levels. However, the process of stabilising sodium levels takes time, as inappropriately rapid correction can lead to death. The period of awaiting sodium levels to stabilise is when the risk of VTE is highest.
Addressing the unmet need
The close connection between VTE and sodium imbalances could make it is possible for the presence of one to indicate the risk of the other. Sodium levels could provide a relevant early warning signal to identify patients at risk of developing VTE. Because sodium levels are frequently measured in hospitalised patients, this could be helpful in assessing VTE risk.
MedTech solutions, like the geko™ device, offer an alternative route to VTE prevention by promoting blood flow in the legs via MedTech devices that stimulate nerves in the leg, increasing blood flow. . These devices could be used on patients with sodium imbalances to reduce VTE risk when awaiting surgery.
Making healthcare accessible for all
Further research is needed to determine the best practices for identifying and managing VTE and sodium imbalances to ensure treatments are more accessible. But given the non-invasive nature of new wearable medical devices, innovations like geko™ can provide healthcare systems with suitable alternatives to standard of care that address unmet needs. Such technologies have the power to contribute to saved healthcare costs and, more importantly, save lives.
Read the full article on Orthopaedic Product News.