COMMENTARY

The Psychological Toll of VTE

Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD

Disclosures

November 02, 2015

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Psychological Effects of PE and DVT

Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD: Hello. This is Dr Sam Goldhaber for the Clot Blog at theheart.org at Medscape, speaking to you from the European Society of Cardiology Congress in London. Today I'm going to speak about the psychological effects of pulmonary embolism (PE) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), particularly on younger patients from the ages of 13-33 years who are diagnosed with venous thromboembolism (VTE).

I think we naturally pay the most attention to making sure our patients get the right treatment—the right anticoagulants. But if we have a chance to sit back and talk to our patients about their lives and how VTE is affecting them, we might be in for quite a surprise.

I've had an interest in the psychosocial aspects and psychological aftereffects of VTE for quite some time. My nurse and I have run a PE and DVT monthly support group for the past 23 years. We get a taste of what it's like for our patients, aside from the direct medical consequences of PE. PE and DVT can take quite a large psychological toll as well.

Prescription of Psychotropic Medications in VTE Patients

There is a recent Scandinavian study[1] that looked at more than 4000 young patients with DVT and PE. The study followed these patients for 5 years and compared what happened to them with age- and gender-matched controls with respect to prescription of antidepressant medication and, in addition to antidepressants, anxiolytic medication, sleep medication, and antipsychotic medications. It found that the rate of prescription of all of these psychotropic drugs was double in the patients with PE and DVT compared with the control group.

As we go about our practices, we should recognize the psychological aftermath that might be in place, and it's worth asking our patients how they're coping emotionally and psychologically with the PE or DVT diagnosis. We can help our patients by providing them with accurate educational information and directing them toward PE and DVT advocacy groups.

I think this that this Scandinavian study shows us in real terms the suffering—the mental, psychological suffering—that many patients endure following the diagnosis of PE or DVT.

This is Dr Sam Goldhaber, signing off for the Clot Blog.

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