Olympic Skater Sidelined by Blood Clots Promotes New IMC Guidelines

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH) – What’s the one thing that can stop a world class athlete?  For one Olympic skater, it was battling blood clots that overtook her body.  In our continued partnership with Intermountain Medical Center, we highlight the work being done by two thrombosis experts at IMC and why their recently published guidelines aim for better diagnosis and treatment.
 
Olympic long track speed skater Rebekah Bradford-Plath raced onto the international scene as the top spot on Team USA at the Vancouver Olympics. Six years after the Vancouver Olympics…
 
“May I take a listen to that spot on your lungs to see if I can hear anything?” asked Intermountain Medical Center Thrombosis Co-Director Dr. Scott Stevens.
 
Rebekah is back at Intermountain Medical Center for one of many check-ups suffering form lingering pain and complications after nearly having a stroke or heart attack due to blood clots.
 
“Blood clots are probably the most common serious disease you’ve never heard,” said Dr. Stevens.
 
That’s why Intermountain Medical Center Thrombosis Co-Director Dr. Scott Stevens, and 14 other thrombosis experts from around the world gathered to present new guidelines for blood clot detection, treatment, and survival.
 
“Set up a scenario where a doctor may encounter a patient in a certain circumstance, asks the key questions that are necessary to treat that patient properly, and then advises the doctor on the choice of treatment to use in that situation,” said Dr. Stevens.
 
It’s all in efforts to prevent misdiagnosis.  When you look at Rebekah on her wedding day June 2012, all smiles sporting a picturesque figure.  Three months later, her new husband found her curled up in a ball in pain.
 
“I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism and the pain I had around my ribs from a collision I had with my friend was a blood clot that burst and bled,” said Olympic athlete Rebekah Bradford-Plath.
 
Six months of misdiagnosis meant the clots spread from her legs to both lungs all while trying for a second Olympic run to Sochi.
 
“Missing the Sochi Team by one tenth of a second, I know that’s my greatest success for survivors that they saw that and they have hope,” said Bradford Plath.
 
Nearly a half a million Americans suffer from blood clots each year.
 
“In people’s Rebekah’s age, young women who are using birth control pills or at the time of their life when they’re having children,” said Dr. Stevens.
 
Some, aren’t as fortunate as Rebekah.
 
“It will actually cause the blood to stop flowing from the heart into the lungs. Without blood flowing into the lungs the body can’t get oxygen and that’s the cause of death when blood clots are fatal,” said Bradford Plath.
 
That’s why Rebekah has shared her story as a champion for awareness for patients and doctors., especially now with new guidelines.
 
“It’s a way for every doctor in the country to use the best possible scientific research from the highest level experts to treat their patients just like the high level expert would,” said Dr. Stevens.

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