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Thrombosis Awareness day is October 13; how one Hoosier saved his life

Posted at 1:03 AM, Oct 11, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday, October 13th is "World Thrombosis Day," a day observed for bringing awareness to blood clots.

Thrombosis is the leading cause of global death and disability. WRTV’s Amber Grigley met one Hoosier who explains how he saved his life with a symptom before it was too late.

"I just felt almost a sudden and extreme fatigue," Chris Betelak said.

In March 2017, Betelak was out working in the yard.

"I was doing fairly heavy yard work, but nothing out of the ordinary," Betelak said.

Hours later, his symptoms became more intense.

“I was in the house feeling worse, and then my leg was swelling, and all that came together, causing us to call the doctor and go to the hospital," Betelak said.

Betelak soon learned that he was experiencing a life-threatening emergency.

“Ultrasounds, cat scans and they all pointed to blood clots they went up to the lung and had PEs in the lungs. Those things needed to be addressed fairly quickly. So, it was a little unnerving," said Betelak.

"Approximately, 2% of people who have blood clots in their lungs don't make it to the hospital," said Dr. Brandon Hardesty, Adult Hematologist at Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center.

Dr. Hardesty said Betelak’s fast reaction ultimately save his life.

"It's really about the duration of symptoms. Muscle cramps longer than an hour," Dr. Hardesty said.

Dr. Hardesty said blood clots usually start in the legs, with muscle cramps in the call or in the thighs. Sometimes leading to swelling around the ankles.

"If the blood clot travels to the lungs, then you could have shortness of breath," Hardesty said.

"It's not one of those things necessarily associated with poor health, so it was very surprising that it occurred to me," Betelak said.

According to the CDC, one American dies of a blood clot every 6 minutes.

This "World Thrombosis Day", both Dr. Hardesty and Betelak said they hope more people will pay more attention to the small signs and not wait if something doesn't feel quite right.

"These symptoms of a blood clot are potentially very serious, and they need to be evaluated quickly," said Dr. Hardesty.

Dr. Hardesty said blood clots become more common as you get older. However, they are still common enough in young people, and these symptoms still apply.