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Student follows paper in prestigious journal with presentation at international conference

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Hannah Devlin, a fourth-year medical student from BL presented at an international conference in June in Cork, Ireland, exploring the genetic disorder of the blood vessels, known as Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT).

Hannah gave an oral presentation at the 10th HHT World Scientific Conference based on the research she conducted whilst completing her intercalated BSc in Cardiovascular Science at Imperial College London. Part of the costs of Hannah’s attendance at the conference has been supported by Barts and The London.

The research was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and surveyed people with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a disease affecting up to 1 in 5000 people that causes nosebleeds, often along with intestinal bleeding and large blood vessel malformations. The survey asked questions about their experiences of taking blood-thinning medications.

Blood thinners are taken to reduce risk of dangerous blood clots, but many doctors are reluctant to give them to patients who bleed excessively because it might make their symptoms worse, even though many of these patients also have a higher risk of blood clotting disorders such as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and stroke.

In the online survey, sufferers of an inherited bleeding disorder reported that blood thinners often make no difference to their symptoms. The data gathered may help doctors to save more lives by prescribing these drugs to prevent DVT and stroke.

The responses showed that out of 379 people with HHT who had taken blood thinners about 43 per cent experienced no change or even an improvement of their nosebleeds. Only 13 per cent reported other bleeding events. When asked about their deceased relatives who had HHT, as many people reported that not taking blood thinners had contributed to their deaths as reported that blood thinners were detrimental.

Hannah’s survey analysis was led by Dr Claire Shovlin from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and supported by Anna Hosman of the Academical Medical Center School of Medicine, Amsterdam. The study was supported in part by the National Heart and Lung Institute’s BSc Project Funds and donations from families and friends of HHT patients.

Learn more about Hannah’s research on the New England Journal of Medicine website.

Visit the HHT World Scientific Conference website to find out about the presentations and speakers.

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