DVT: Ticking time bomb from sitting too long

FRESNO, Calif. Jim Fagrell is always on his feet. As the owner of Fresno towing company he walks, what seems like, miles a day ... out to his towing yard to check a constant inventory on the cars and trucks and even motor homes that come in, around the clock.

Since he doesn't stay still for too long ... Jim never thought he would get a life-threatening condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT, a condition usually associated with hours of sitting.

DVT killed NBC Correspondent David Bloom in 2003 who spent hours inside a tank, covering the Iraq War. Family members later discovered Bloom had an inherited blood disorder that along with the cramped quarters ... became deadly.

But Jim wasn't aware he had a problem until his leg started to hurt.

"The only thing I noticed, prior to was my legs were getting weak and then the pain kind of hit in on my right leg," said Fagrell.

Jim's doctor sent him to Saint Agnes Medical Center to diagnosis his problem and it didn't take long to see his DVT. It was already on its way to his vital organs but was stopped moments before it would have been too late.

Paul Speece, MD said, "The main risk is if a big clot gets loose in the leg and travels to the lung. I can cause sudden death.

Dr. Paul Speece is one of the Saint Agnes Doctors stopping DVT in patients often before it gets critical. He says the symptoms can be subtle and can happen unexpectedly. "It can be from a trauma an accident, a recent surgery ... people on long plane trips. They're in a stable position for a long time ... they can get a clot. Some people are just prone to it. They have a genetic predisposition to forming a clot."

A new device to treat the potentially deadly clot is giving patients fast relief and saving lives. It acts like a mini-mixer, inside the vein. Surgeons thread a vibrating wire through the blocked vein, inflate "balloons" on either side to isolate the clot, and then fill the space with clot dissolving medication. The mixing action of the wire then breaks up the clot.

The traditional way to treat DVT was to insert a catheter into the vein and apply medication to the clot for hours ... keeping the patient in the hospital for days. But Dr. Speece says the vibrating wire is faster and more effective.

The results can be pretty dramatic ... most of the time we watch them overnight, just to make sure they're doing ok after the procedure and then most of the time they can go home the next day," said Dr. Speece.

Jim had the procedure which he says, saved his life. Now he's back at work and on the road to better health.

Doctors say other risk factors for DVT include smoking, obesity and a recent pregnancy.

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