Take the time to discuss lifesaving blood clot prevention advice

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Thanksgiving marks the day when extended families gather around the table to count our blessings. It’s an opportunity to catch up with loved ones, swap embarrassing stories about growing up, and hear the same story that grandpa got so much joy from telling the first 19 times. 

An important topic of discussion for this year’s Thanksgiving table is one that may at first seem off-topic but is in fact vital for every family: blood clot prevention. Chances are, someone in your extended family already has a story of how a blood clot impacted them. But have they asked their health care provider, “What is my blood clot prevention plan?” 

Asking this important question can help ensure that our loved ones will be able to gather with us around the table again next year. This question might have saved our daughter’s life. Instead, our table will have an empty seat where our Emily used to sit. 

Our daughter Emily Adkins tragically lost her life at age 23 to a pulmonary embolism stemming from a fractured ankle. We now know that Emily’s death could have been prevented if we had understood her blood clot risk factors and initiated a conversation with her doctor. 

Not long before she slipped and broke her ankle, Emily had undergone gallbladder surgery. Never in a million years would we have thought to connect the dots between a recent surgery, a broken ankle, and the possibility of a fatal blood clot – and that’s the problem. Far too many families are faced with unimaginable tragedy because they don’t know what they don’t know. Blood clots can affect anyone at any age, and it’s critical for people to understand that while factors such as hospitalizations and family history can increase their risk, blood clots are preventable. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 900,000 Americans are affected by blood clots each year, and nearly 100,000 of these result in death. Yet according to a recent survey, only 1 in 4 Floridians who had an experience that carried a risk factor for blood clots had a conversation with their health care provider about how to manage it. Knowing your Caprini Risk Score can help jump-start a discussion with your doctor about your blood clot risk, which could make all the difference. 

The Emily Adkins Prevention Act, signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Ron DeSantis, creates a policy workgroup that will examine data to better understand why preventable blood clots continue to go undetected and to recommend ways Florida can improve blood clot care and prevention. 

We hope to honor Emily by continuing to educate families and health care providers about this preventable epidemic, so more Floridians can take comfort in being knowledgeable and better prepared. 

As you gather around the family table this Thanksgiving, become familiar with everyone’s blood clot experiences and history. Urge your loved ones to ask their doctor, “What’s my blood clot prevention plan?” These simple conversations could save their lives. 

Douglas Adkins is Emily’s father and CEO of Emily’s Promise, a Jacksonville-based family foundation dedicated to the memory of Emily Elizabeth Adkins. The foundation’s goal is to raise awareness of blood clot risk factors and the importance of asking health care providers, #whatismybloodclotpreventionplan. Janet Adkins, wife to Douglas Adkins and mother to Emily, served eight years in The Florida House of Representatives.

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