We've all heard about how scary a blood clot is. They can lead to strokes and other serious issues, but the scariest thing about them is that they are mostly invisible.
We obviously can't see into our blood streams so it's not as if we know when they are there, but now one almost unbelievable case has left doctors astonished.
The New England Journal Of Medicine released a photo and report of a case that confused even the doctors.
A 36-year-old man was admitted to the hospital after suffering from heart failure. He had a long history of issues with his heart, and even had a permanent pacemaker in place.
The man remained in the hospital for about a week with increasing respiratory distress, but in an extremely violent coughing fit, a gigantic blood clot came flying out of his lungs.
The right bronchial tree was in the exact shape of the network of tubes that connects the lungs to the airway, and it was coughed up in one piece.
A 36-year-old man was admitted to the ICU with an acute exacerbation of chronic #heartfailure. After a ventricular assist device was placed & anticoagulation therapy initiated, hemoptysis developed, and he expectorated a cast of the right bronchial tree. https://t.co/QfqeqwWzXt pic.twitter.com/nXW201rjCT— NEJM (@NEJM) December 3, 2018
As gross as it is, it's also pretty remarkable. The size of this clot is something that should not have been able to have been coughed up.
This isn't the first time someone has coughed up a large clot like this, but it's definitely still shocking. The previous patient that the report cites was a 25-year-old pregnant woman who coughed up a clot that showed a similar impressive architecture but was significantly smaller that the new one.
"Because it was so large, he was able to generate enough force from an entire right side of his thorax to push this up and out," Gavitt Woodard, clinical fellow who helped Dr. Georg Wieselthaler photograph the patient's clot explained, noting that if it had broken up, "he might not have been able to generate the force."
When the man coughed up the clot he felt instant relief, however his condition was already too far gone and he passed away a week later.
Even though the story had a tragic ending, it does really show you that we don't always know what's happening inside our bodies.
According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, there are a few signs and symptoms that you should watch out for when it comes to blood clots. If you experience any of these issues, get to the hospital immediately.
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis:
If a clot forms in your arms or legs, you may experience:
- Swelling - usually restricted to one leg or arm
- Leg pain or tenderness that feels like a cramp or Charley horse
- Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
- Leg (or arm) warm to the touch
Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism:
If a clot forms in your lungs (like the one you saw above) you may experience:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sharp, stabbing chest pains that worsen on a deep breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained cough with occasional bloody mucus
You can find out more about the dangers of blood clots here.