South Florida Vascular Associates South Florida Vascular Associates

Thursday, March 21, 2013

10 years after NBC Journalist David Bloom's death, greater awareness of DVT

By Linda Carroll Today Health

Ten years ago while covering the war in Iraq, NBC journalist David Bloom was struck and killed, not by a stray bullet or roadside bomb, but by a clot that traveled to his lungs and blocked blood flow.  The clot had started in Bloom’s legs as a deep vein thrombosis and then traveled silently up to his lungs until it lodged in an artery there.

Bloom’s family was stunned when they heard the news.

“We had braced ourselves for all the war-related dangers that that assignment entailed,” his wife, Melanie Bloom told “But when I got that call, I had never heard  of DVT myself and I don’t think David ever had. The more I learned, the more shocked I was. It wasn’t an IED or a bomb that took his life. It was this DVT.”

As a way of finding some meaning in her husband’s death Bloom set out to educate the public about DVT and has been working to alert everyone to the danger.

Thursday, she told TODAY how far that effort has come.

“In the past ten years we’ve established March as national DVT awareness month and we’ve raised awareness by about 20 percent,  which is quite significant because the year David passed a study showed that 74 percent of Americans were completely unaware of DVT,” she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer.

DVT can be treated and pulmonary embolism sometimes averted, Dr. Geno Merli, a clinical professor at Jefferson University and co-director of the Jefferson Vascular Center, told TODAY. Merli is also a paid consultant to Sanofi-Aventis, which makes a DVT therapy.

David Bloom, 39, died of a pulmonary embolism while covering the U.S.-led war in Iraq, on April 6, 2003.

Further, we can lower our risk of dying by changing the way we live and by knowing the warning signs that a DVT is developing, Merli said.

“There’s a personal risk through obesity, and age, which of course we can’t change,” Merli said. “And there are some, such as cancer, medications that could cause [a DVT] or immobility, say from the fracture of a leg.”

Other risk factors include injury, surgery, illness, pregnancy, smoking, and prolonged immobility, which can occur if you’re sitting on a long plane trip without moving your legs.

DVT warning signs include pain, swelling, tenderness, discoloration or redness of the affected area, and skin that is warm to the touch. Symptoms of pulmonary embolisms include shortness of breath, an apprehensive feeling, chest pain, rapid pulse, sweating, or a bloody cough.

However, “50 percent of the time there are no symptoms,” Bloom said, “so it’s important to know if you fall into any of those risk categories.”

DVT and pulmonary embolism strikes about 300,000 to 600,000 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The Surgeon General’s office estimates that more than 100,000 people die each year as a result of  DVT and pulmonary embolism.

Five years after her husband’s death Melanie Bloom remarried and had two more children in addition to the three she had with Bloom. Still, “we think about David every single day. It’s been so cathartic and wonderful to know we’ve saved lives in his memory and in his honor,” she said.

At South Florida Vascular Associates we have successfully treated hundreds of patients. If you have been diagnosed with DVT and would like more information on treatment options please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board certified endovascular surgeons.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month

Did you know?
•    According to the Vascular Disease Foundation, blood clots affect over 600,000 Americans each year and cause more deaths each year than the more well-publicized conditions of breast cancer, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents.
•    Blood clots are a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths in the United States.
•    Blood clots are the leading cause of maternal death in the United States.
•    One-half of clot patients will have long-term complications and one-third will have a recurrence within 10 years.
•    An estimated $10 billion in medical costs in the US each year can be attributed to DVT and Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
What is DVT?

This patient has a DVT in his left leg.
 Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in the deep veins in the legs.  These clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE).  DVT’s can cause permanent damage to the leg veins that result in long-term pain, swelling, change in skin color and skin ulcers.

Some people experience swelling and varying levels of discomfort in the affected area, while others don't feel anything at all.  The symptoms of DVT can also be similar to those of other conditions, like a pulled muscle. Because some people with DVT don't have any symptoms, and because the symptoms can masquerade as a more benign ailment, there's often a delay in diagnosis.  That's when DVT can be fatal.  DVT/PE is the fourth leading cause of death in western society.

What Causes Blood Clots (DVT and PE)?
Blood clots may form when either the flow of blood in a vein slows, damage to a vein occurs, or the blood is more clotable. Many factors can increase a person’s risk for developing a blood clot in a vein.

Common risk factors for developing a blood clot include:
• Hospitalization
• Being paralyzed
• Prolonged sitting

Surgery and Trauma:
• Major surgery (especially of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, knee)
• Bone fracture or cast
• Catheter in a big vein (PICC line, central venous catheter, or port)

Increased estrogens:
• Birth control pills, patches, rings
• Pregnancy, including up to 6 weeks after giving birth
• Estrogen and progestin hormone therapy

Medical conditions:
• Cancer and chemotherapy
• Heart failure
• Inflammatory disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease)
• The kidney disorder called nephrotic syndrome

Other risk factors:
• Previous blood clot
• Family history of clots
• Clotting disorder (inherited or acquired)
• Obesity
• Older age
• Cigarette smoking
• Varicose veins

Tips for Preventing Blood Clots (DVT and PE)

•    Stay active.  Immobility increases the risk of developing clots. If you've been sitting for a long period of time (such as long-distance travel)   stop and take a break to stretch your legs.
•    Maintain an ideal body weight. 
•    Know your risk factors for developing a clot and discuss these with your doctor.
•    Know your family medical history.  Make sure your doctor knows about any history of blood clots.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed or is experiencing symptoms of DVT, please contact our office to set up an appointment with one of our board certified endovascular surgeons to discuss which treatment option works best for you.  We have 3 convenient offices located thoughout Broward and Palm Beach Counties.