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Health Beat: Diagnosing deadly blood clots

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 09 2013 11:37:30 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2013 04:38:21 PM CDT

More people die from preventable blood clots than from breast cancer, AIDS, and traffic accidents combined.

ORLANDO, Fla. -

More people die from preventable blood clots than from breast cancer, AIDS, and traffic accidents combined, and chances are you're at risk since about 900,000 people get them every year in the United States.

Researchers are now taking new measures to evaluate your risk of developing potentially deadly blood clots.

The Flecks love Disney, but their recent trip to Orlando wasn't a vacation. They were in a waiting area of the hospital where Jason Flecks experienced some of his darkest days. It's where he was treated for potentially deadly blood clotting and cancer.

"I also had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well. One of the nurses had said to me, had I not come in when I did, I may not have made it another day,” Jason Flecks said.

Flecks stumbled onto the bad news when he fell off a trampoline at a kid's birthday party.

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

"It’s the number one reason why you might die in a hospital," said Dr. John Francis, of Florida Hospital.

And not even know you were in danger. Researchers are working on a new test to solve that mystery. It offers a full picture of how your blood cells and proteins work together to form a clot.

"We're measuring the production in the blood of an enzyme called Thrombin. It's really the key. Too little, you bleed; too much, you clot," Francis explained.

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

Flecks didn’t know he had the genetic blood clotting disorder until the trampoline accident. So far, knock on wood, his cancer is in remission.

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

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. John Francis about diagnosing deadly blood clots