Mutant alert: UAE hospital detects 72 people with blood mutation

The UAE’s Mafraq Hospital today revealed that it has detected 72 individuals with an abnormal version of a blood protein, a condition that could lead to their death.

In a media statement, the hospital which is owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, said it had detected the genetic protein mutation known as Factor V Leiden in nearly one in five patients with blood clots at the facility over the past two-and-a-half years.

“Those testing positive for Factor V Leiden are at a higher risk for embolism (dislodged blood clots) and resulting complications, including stroke, heart attack, and even death,” said Dr. Mohamed Yaman, Mafraq Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer.

The 72 individuals diagnosed with thrombosis were from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, UAE, India and Pakistan, the hospital said, adding that the age-range of such patients was between 20 and 72 years. Factor V Leiden positive patients may carry either one or two copies of the gene, which results in a seven-fold to 50-fold higher risk of clotting, respectively, the hospital said.

According to the statement, Factor V Leiden was first discovered in the Netherlands in 1994, and a simple screening test is able to determine the presence or absence of the mutation, which, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is said to exist in roughly 5 per cent of the population. The test is now one of the most common blood tests performed by clinical laboratories across the world.

“The protein mutation is an abnormal version of a blood protein and is considered one of the most common genetic risk factors for blood clotting,” the hospital said.

“By screening for this mutation, our expert team of hemaopathologists is able to identify at-risk patients and educate them before a serious problem occurs,” said Dr. Anwar Sallam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mafraq Hospital.

A significant portion of the population is at risk of suffering from blood clots, especially diagnosed cancer patients, the obese, pregnant women, post-operative patients and those taking hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.

At-risk patients, can however, adopt a number of precautionary measures and practices to prevent clots before they develop.

Dr. Amira Mahmoud Aly, Hemaopathologist, Mafraq Hospital explained: “When a patient tests positive for the Factor V Leiden gene, we schedule an appointment to discuss the risks associated with the condition, and suggest precautionary measures to prevent future complications. We recommend all patients maintain a healthy body weight, avoid smoking and excessive drinking, participate in physical activity and avoid immobility for extended periods of time.

We also encourage all patients to advise their doctors and surgeons of their condition prior to surgery.

“If blood clots run in the family, or a patient has reason to believe he or she may be at risk, I would encourage them to consult their doctor.”

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