Full programme transcript >>
A clot in the blood system, or a thrombosis, is the biggest killer in our society. Both sides of the circulation - the arteries and the veins - can be affected.
In this week's Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest research on diagnosing, treating and preventing blood clots in the veins - known as venous thromboses.
A clot in a vein often occurs without warning. If it travels up to the lungs (known a pulmonary embolus) it can quickly become life-threatening, and unfortunately many cases are only discovered at autopsy.
Mark's guest in the studio is Prof. Ajay Kakkar, Professor of Surgical Sciences at Barts and the London NHS Trust.
Prof. Kakkar reveals his new research into the link between cancer and thromboses. Thromboses often occur in cancer patients, and his work suggests that some of these patients survive their cancers longer if they take the blood thinning drug heparin.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
DVT hit the headlines when it was reported that travellers on long-haul flights were especially at risk.
However, more recent research suggests that being immobile for long periods, rather than the actual mode of travel, lies at the root of the problem.
Before setting off on her summer holiday, Vivienne Parry picks up some practical tips on what precautions she should take.
Treating Venous Thrombosis
Around one percent of the British population are on blood thinning drugs, and most take warfarin. The drug carries a risk of bleeding, so close monitoring is essential, putting an enormous burden on both patients and the NHS.
Mark talks to Haematologist Dr David Keating, from the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals, about new drug treatments on the horizon. It's hoped they'll be just as effective as warfarin, but won't require monitoring.
Hughes Syndrome, also called antiphospholipid syndrome or 'sticky blood', is a little-known but widespread condition. It causes life-threatening blood clots in the arteries, as well as the veins. It's more common in women, many of whom are only diagnosed after multiple miscarriages, caused by clots forming in the placenta.
Mark meets Rheumatologist Dr Graham Hughes of St Thomas's Hospital, who discovered the syndrome. Sufferers can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, and successfully treated with blood-thinning drugs.