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

A decade ago, amidst the chaos of the Iraq war, NBC journalist David Bloom tragically lost his life. Surprisingly, it wasn’t due to a stray bullet or an explosive device, but rather a clot that journeyed to his lungs, obstructing blood flow. Originating as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his legs, the clot silently traveled until it became lodged in an artery in his lungs.

The Bloom family, caught off guard by this unexpected news, grappled with the revelation. “We had prepared for all the war-related dangers of his assignment,” expressed his wife, Melanie Bloom. “However, when I received that call, I had never even heard of DVT, and I don’t think David had either. The more I learned, the more shocked I became. It wasn’t an explosive or bomb that claimed his life; it was this DVT.”

In an effort to find meaning in her husband’s tragic death, Bloom dedicated herself to educating the public about DVT, working tirelessly to raise awareness about this danger.

During a recent interview on TODAY, she shared the progress made in the past decade. “In the last ten years, we’ve designated March as National DVT Awareness Month, increasing awareness by about 20 percent. This is significant considering that, at the time of David’s passing, a study revealed that 74 percent of Americans were entirely unaware of DVT,” she informed Matt Lauer.

DVT can be treated, and in some cases, pulmonary embolism can be averted, explained Dr. Geno Merli, a clinical professor at Jefferson University and co-director of the Jefferson Vascular Center. Merli, also a consultant for Sanofi-Aventis, emphasized the importance of lifestyle changes and recognizing warning signs to lower the risk of death.

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

Moreover, personal risk factors such as obesity, age, cancer, certain medications, and immobility contribute to the development of DVT, Merli noted. Other risk factors include injury, surgery, illness, pregnancy, smoking, and prolonged immobility, such as during long plane trips.

Recognizing DVT warning signs, including pain, swelling, tenderness, discoloration, or redness, is crucial. Pulmonary embolism symptoms encompass shortness of breath, an apprehensive feeling, chest pain, rapid pulse, sweating, or a bloody cough. However, as Bloom stressed, “50 percent of the time, there are no symptoms,” underscoring the importance of knowing one’s risk categories.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DVT and pulmonary embolism affect 300,000 to 600,000 people annually, with over 100,000 estimated deaths each year, as per the Surgeon General’s office.

Reflecting on her journey, five years after her husband’s demise, Melanie Bloom remarried and expanded her family. Despite the passage of time, she emphasized, “We think about David every single day. It’s been cathartic and wonderful to know we’ve saved lives in his memory and honor.”

At South Florida Vascular Associates, numerous patients have successfully received treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with DVT and seek more information on treatment options, please reach out to our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified endovascular surgeons.