Clot Chronicles: What’s on the Horizon This Year

Hello, I’m Dr. Sam Goldhaber, President of NATF and a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Today on Clot Chronicles, we’re going to take a look toward the future of 2021. I think the biggest development is going to be vaccination against the COVID virus. 

Now, vaccinating the entire US population will be quite an undertaking – and, of course, in order to reduce COVID, the vaccination really has to go global. But I think we’re seeing remarkable achievements in science and in partnerships between scientists and governments and industry, and I’m optimistic that by the end of next year, billions (with a B) will have been vaccinated. There are some [in the US] who are against any vaccination whatsoever – but I do believe that with the proper education, with former presidents pledging to be vaccinated on live TV, and sports stars making the same pledge, we will move forward.

And I want to remind you that Elvis Presley, back in about 1955, agreed to take the polio vaccine and just interrupted one of his concerts to do so. So, there is a precedent for getting role models and really famous people to take the vaccine. The important point is that while the world’s population is getting vaccinated, we can’t let down our guard, and we have to continue excellent hand hygiene, masking, and social distancing. These seem like such elementary asks, but people tend to, after time, get fatigued, and we have guard against that in the year 2021. 

Now, aside from the COVID vaccine, which I think will be a triumph in science, there are also trials going on of novel anticoagulants, which prove in preliminary tests to be potentially even safer than the direct oral anticoagulants that we currently have available. The current anticoagulants that we have available target the clotting factor X or thrombin, the clotting factor II, and some of these new anticoagulants target the clotting factor XI or clotting factor XII. There is some preliminary evidence that with this strategy, bleeding complications from anticoagulation can be reduced even further. 

Finally, in stepping back a bit, I think one lesson we’ve learned from COVID is that our personal health and a heart-healthy lifestyle with daily exercise is very important. I believe that we’ll see an increase in the purchase of Peloton bikes, along with increased exercise and better nutrition in 2021, and that will be a welcome change. 

This is Dr. Sam Goldhaber signing off from Clot Chronicles.

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