In 2003, NBC correspondent David Bloom set out on the front lines to cover the war in Iraq. His wife, Melanie, worried about his safety. But, it would be something else that would take his life.
"I call it the bomb within his own body that hit his lungs and took his life," said Bloom.
The so called bomb she refers to was a pulmonary embolism-a blood clot that can form in the legs from either partially or completely blocked circulation. It moved from Bloom's leg into his lung. It was caused by a condition called deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
"I had never heard of DVT before the phone call came that night," said Bloom. "Since David's death I learned more people die from DVT each year in our nation than AIDS and breast cancer combined."
DVT affects up to two million Americans each year. In David Bloom's case, dehydration, restricted mobility from sleeping in a tank and genetics played a role. Since losing her husband, Melanie has been raising awareness about DVT as the national spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent DVT.
"People have literally said to me, 'your husband saved my life,'" said Bloom.
Some risk factors for DVT include limited movement, cancer, infection, and obesity. If there are symptoms, often they're minimal. "A lot of people get aches and pain," said Duke Professor of Medicine Dr.Vic Tapson. "And, if you have significant leg pain or leg swelling, you've got to get to a doctor. Starting blood thinners are crucial," said Tapson.
Experts say the risk of DVT can be reduced if it's detected. Melanie Bloom feels it could have made a difference in her husband's life if he had recognized his warning signs.
Almost half the time DVT strikes without warning, so, doctors say knowing the risk factors and warning signs is the best defense.