Diagnosing deadly blood clots

More people die from preventable blood clots than from breast cancer, AIDS, and traffic accidents combined. And chances are, you’re at risk.

About 900,000 people get them every year in the United States.

But now, researchers are working to evaluate your risk of developing potentially deadly blood clots.

The Fleck family know this fight all too well.

Jason Fleck was treated for potentially deadly blood clotting that began in his legs and eventually traveled to his lungs. Then he was given more bad news.

"I also had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as well,” Fleck said. “One of the nurses said to me, ‘You know, had you not come in when you did, um, you may not have made it another day.'" (:10)

Fleck first realized there was a problem when he fell of a trampoline.

"I went to see an orthopedic doctor who said there's nothing wrong with your leg, but you may have blood clotting,” he said.

Doctors know that this is a serious problem.

"It's the number one reason why you might die in a hospital," John Francis, director of the Florida Hospital Center for Thrombosis Research

Of the main risk factors, Fleck had two – cancer and a genetic blood clotting disorder.

"We know that an individual's risk is increased, but we don't know whether it's increased to the point where we need to take some medical intervention right this minute,” said Francis.

Researchers are working on a new test to solve that mystery. It offers a full picture ofyou’re your blood cells and proteins work together to form a clot.

"We're measuring the production in the blood of an enzyme called Thrombin,” said Francis. “It's really the key-too little, you bleed, too much, you clot."

The goal is to eliminate preventable complications so at-risk patients like Fleck can plan family vacations for years to come.

So far, Fleck’s cancer is in remission.

Researchers are hoping to launch clinical trials for the blood clotting diagnostic test by 2014.


REPORT: MB# 3675

BACKGROUND: Blood clots can occur under many different circumstances and in many different locations. Blood clots that form in response to an injury or a cut are beneficial, stopping potentially dangerous bleeding. However, a number of conditions can cause you to develop blood clots in critical locations, such as your lungs and brain, and they require medical attention. (SOURCE: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-clots)

CAUSES: Factors and conditions that can cause blood clots, as well as serious conditions that are associated with blood clots once they form and travel to other parts of your body, include:
* Antiphospholipid syndrome
* Certain medications, such as oral contraceptives, hormone therapy drugs and some breast cancer medications
* Family history of blood clots
* Obesity
* Pregnancy
* Prolonged sitting or bed rest
(SOURCE: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-clots)

TREATMENT: The thrombin generation assay (TGA) is the only global assay that describes the overall capacity of a patient to generate thrombin. Scientists at the Center for Thrombosis Research have further developed and standardized this sophisticated method through extensive work over the last two years. Our method now represents a fully validated, state-of-the-art way to study procoagulant activity in plasma, cancer cells and suspensions of cellular microparticles. We are also working to validate the thrombin generation assay in whole blood samples, and to establish a method for the measurement of microparticles in the blood of cancer patients. This research will contribute to our understanding of cancer-associated hypercoagulability, and could ultimately provide a critical tool for hematologists and oncologists alike, with distinct ramifications for improved patient care. (SOURCE: www.fhthrombosis.com/CurrentProjects)

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