Deep Vein Thrombosis: Knowing Your Risk for Blood Clots

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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) affects about two million Americans annually, mostly in men and women over 40. DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in a vein deep in the body. It can lead to serious conditions like pulmonary embolism, which blocks blood flow when the clot travels to the lungs. Blood clots that form in the invisible "deep veins" can be an immediate threat to your life, according to the Vascular Disease Foundation. Joining this Patient Power program to shed light on this potentially fatal condition is leading expert Dr. Andrew Schafer. Dr. Schafer is chairman of the Department of Medicine and the E. Hugh Luckey Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College, and also Physician-in-Chief of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

Le Keisha Ruffin, a wife, mother and homemaker was experiencing excruciating pain for quite a while. The pain was so sharp in her chest and side that it felt like someone was literally stabbing her over and over again in the same spot. Mrs. Ruffin later went in for an EKG, a CT-Scan, a Venous Doppler and many other tests. When the ER doctor gave Le Keisha the results of all of the tests, she was informed that she had a right lower extremity DVT, which caused one of the largest blood clots that her doctor had ever seen. Furthermore, the doctor informed Le Keisha that part of the blood clot had already broken off, traveled through her heart and hit the lungs causing a Pulmonary Embolism. Don’t miss Le Keisha’s incredible story of overcoming an illness she was sure would take her life.

As an authority in the areas of hemostasis, thrombosis, platelet and vascular cell biology, Dr. Schafer highlights an illness few are familiar with. Dr. Schafer gives us a clearer picture of the meaning of DVT, what causes DVT, early warning signs, treatment options and the importance of DVT awareness.

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Produced in association with Weill Cornell Medical College


Andrew Schorr:

Hello and thank you for being with us again in the New Year, 2008. Andrew Schorr here, broadcasting live Patient Power on Health Radio Network from Seattle. I’m excited for a number of reasons. First of all, I don’t know about you but I have kids, and the school holidays and the way things fell, everything was sort of discombobulated this year so I’m ready to get back to work and really empower you with the best information on significant medical conditions. Also, we have been in the middle of the football playoffs, and hopefully if you have a team in it they are doing well. I’m way out in the corner of the country in Seattle. Nobody ever pays attention to us, but yes, our Seattle Seahawks are still in the playoffs, and then they go back to frigid Green Bay, Wisconsin, this weekend, but hopefully things will go well, and I can report that next week. Hopefully your team or the team you are cheering for is doing well. We were reading about LaDainian Tomlinson to my little kid last night, and the San Diego Chargers are in it so good for them.

Let’s talk medicine though. I go to some medical conventions, and most years I go to something called the American Society of Hematology meeting, and about 20,000 or 30,000 blood and cancer doctors from around the world go. It was in Atlanta this year. Happily it was like 80 degrees there, it was great. One of the things that I came across; I didn’t attend this particular session, but there was one session that called attention to something called deep vein thrombosis or DVT. I hadn’t really thought much about it. I’d seen some of the TV commercials. I think there is a drug approved for it, maybe more than one. So they advertise, ‘Could you have DVT?’ and all these things that are brought to your attention that maybe you hadn’t thought about.

Actually DVT is one you should think about, and we’ll learn more about it from a leading expert, and actually the immediate past President of that medical society, the American Society of Hematology, in just a minute, but I wanted you to also hear a story, one of a patient, but also one of maybe somebody you'd seen on TV before. It was just a few years ago that an NBC news correspondent, David Bloom who was with the Third Infantry Division in Iraq, died suddenly. He collapsed, and no it wasn’t about the war, it was DVT. Also, I guess what can follow is a pulmonary embolism. We’ll learn about that because it can affect two million Americans every year; not fatally but certainly it can be a silent killer, so you have to learn more about this.

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