University Health Care: Deep Vein Thrombosis


After David’s death in April 2003, Melanie Bloom became more aware of DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE), a potentially fatal complication of DVT. She learned about the risk factors for this condition – such as restricted mobility – that may have led to the development of David’s fatal blood clot. Melanie also learned that David had a silent risk factor, Factor V Leiden – an inherited blood-coagulant disorder that can increase a person’s risk of DVT. Having three or more risk factors for DVT may put someone at risk and can lead to a potentially fatal PE.

One of the most important things Melanie learned is that the risk of DVT can be reduced if you are aware of the risk factors, signs and symptoms.

Melanie has received more than 15,000 letters and e-mails of support, including those from people who said David’s story has made them aware of their own risk for DVT and consequently, saved their lives. Such letters and personal stories from others inspire her to continue to serve as a national spokesperson on behalf of the Coalition to Prevent DVT.

During the fifth annual DVT Awareness Month in March 2008, Melanie again participated in a national media campaign, including the Coalition’s Public Service Announcement (PSA). Last year as part of the national campaign, Melanie’s NBC News friends, including Ann Curry, Al Roker and Meredith Vieira, also took part in the Coalition’s PSA. To date, more than one billion educational messages have been disseminated through the Coalition’s efforts, but Melanie knows that more needs to be done.

Melanie’s hope in telling David’s and her story is that she can help raise public awareness of this silent, serious condition that took her husband’s life.

What is Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

• DVT is a common and serious health problem in which a blood clot (thrombus) forms in the deep veins, usually in the lower leg or thigh. Complications occur when the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, resulting in pulmonary embolism (PE), a life-threatening condition.

• DVT affects up to 2 million Americans each year. While the disease is preventable, approximately 600,000 people are hospitalized each year with DVT and its primary complication, pulmonary embolism.

Risk Factors

• Surgery

• Restricted mobility

• Cancer

• Obesity

• Age 40 or older

• Varicose veins

• Smoking

• Prior history of DVT or PE

• Congestive heart failure or respiratory failure

Signs & Symptoms

• Symptoms can include pain, swelling, tenderness, discoloration or redness of the affected area, and skin that is warm to the touch.

• As many as half of all DVT episodes produce minimal symptoms or none at all.


• University Health Care’s Thrombosis Services has more than 30 physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and support staff who provide care to patients with blood clots or who are at risk for clotting problems.

• Anticoagulants, or blood-thinning drugs, are commonly used to reduce the risk of and treat DVT.

• A new Thrombosis Clinic, located in Research Park, was recently opened to better serve the growing patient population.

• A comprehensive Web site for both patients and practitioners was launched last month:

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