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Legislation proposed in Illinois House to expand research, education on pulmonary embolisms

From Left to Right:
Camryn Cutinello
From left, Becky Burns and Michael Tarantino from the Bleeding and Clotting Disorders Institute, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, and Kristie and Deveraux Hubbard at a news conference Monday, Oct. 16, 2023.

New legislation proposed in the Illinois House would increase funding for education and research on pulmonary embolisms caused by blood clots.

The measure was inspired by the Deveraux Hubbard II Foundation, a Peoria non-profit working to increase knowledge on spotting and preventing blood clots. It was started by Deveraux and Krisite Hubbard after their 19-year-old son died from a pulmonary embolism.

Typically, pulmonary embolisms are caused by blood clots that travel from the arms or legs and block the blood flow to the lungs.

Michael Tarantino, CEO and chief medical officer of the Bleeding and Clotting Disorders Institute in Peoria, said around 60,000 people a year suffer a pulmonary embolism. Around 20,000 people die from the condition each year.

He said when blood clots are caught early, using a blood thinner can prevent them from growing bigger and preventing new ones from forming.

Some people may have a higher genetic disposition to blood clots. Kristie Hubbard said her family found out blood clots run in their family after the death of their son.

“We learned that tragically,” she said at a news conference on Monday. “But since that day, we've worked hard to teach others the signs and symptoms so that they would not have to suffer the way our family has suffered.”

The proposed legislation would use state funds for education campaigns on spotting and preventing blood clots.

In the case of Deveraux Hubbard II, the blood clots presented as flu-like symptoms. Other signs include chest pains and shortness of breath. Tarantino also said because clots often form in the arms or legs, any swelling, pain, tingling or numbness can be a sign.

Standing up or moving periodically while sitting for long periods of time can help prevent blood clots from forming.

“If you're on an airplane for a long period of time, it's important to get up every hour or so to stretch your legs, keep that circulation going,” Tarantino said. “If you happen to be the driver of a car on a long trip, it's important to stop every couple of hours, get out of the car, walk around, keep your circulation going.”

Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, is the measure’s chief sponsor.

“We know that this saves lives and we want to be able to prevent loss of life wherever we can,” she said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also will form an advisory committee to continue research into preventing and treating pulmonary embolisms.

Gordon-Booth said a state university will conduct the research. She said she doesn't know how much the legislation will cost yet.

Camryn Cutinello is a reporter and digital content director at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@illinoisstate.edu.