New research has shown an alarming lack of awareness for a medical condition killing dozens of New Zealand patients each year.
Fifty percent of Kiwis say they've never heard of Venous Thromboembolism or VTE - a blood clot which forms in the veins leading to either deep vein thrombosis or a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.
Caitlin Allington is still recovering from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism that was caused by VTE which formed multiple blood clots on her lungs.
"I just had really bad chest pains all down the right side of my body and just found it difficult to breathe."
Ms Allington is now on blood-thinning drugs, but has no idea what it was or what caused it, but she isn’t the only one.
New research shows half of all Kiwis have never heard of it either with 60 per cent having no idea what causes it.
Approximately 4000 New Zealanders get a VTE every year - half from being hospitalised after illness or surgery which results in 60 patients dying annually.
The main cause of the blood clot is not getting up and out of bed after surgery or illness.
Dr Claire McLintock says patients need to be moving around following surgery in or to get blood through their veins.
"A patient who's just very unwell with bad pneumonia or a heart attack, who's sitting in bed - the blood flow in their legs isn’t quite as good as it should be."
Even though many patients remain unaware of the cause of VTE, Health Ministry officials have now made VTE prevention a high priority for hospitals; with all patients admitted in all wards given a personalised risk factor assessment.
Those who are at risk have actions taken with mobilisation, surgical stockings or heparin blood-thinning injections.
"Mobilisation with the stockings means that you're up, you're walking around, the bloods flowing through your veins, its going back up to your heart," Dr McLintock says.