As many as 900,000 Americans develop potentially deadly blood clots every year, 30% of them with no known risk factors.
Now, specialists have a new FDA-approved approach for removing these clots if they travel to the lungs.
When Shawn Chase started experiencing shortness of breath a few months ago he thought he was just out of shape.
“It wasn’t something that came on quickly. It wasn’t like I just woke up one day and couldn’t breathe,” he said.
But when he started struggling with basic daily activities, he knew it was time to see a doctor.
“I started to see a heart doctor first. I did chest x-rays but none of those showed what was really going on,” he said.
What was really going on? Chase had developed deep vein thrombosis, a condition that leads to clots in the leg that can break off and travel to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism.
“And that’s where it can be deadly. It’s the third [leading] cause of death in the United States, said Dr. Wael Tamim, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Broward Health Medical Center.
Tamim determined that Chase was a good candidate for a procedure to retrieve the clot with an innovative thrombectomy device.
“This way is basically an endovascular approach in which we go from the vein, a major vein, to the heart and then from the heart to the lungs, reach to the artery there and suction that clot out,” Tamim said.
The minimally invasive approach is done under sedation eliminating the risk of general anesthesia.
“I think this new way is going to change the way we treat pulmonary emboli and will allow us to help a lot of patients,” Tamim said
Chase is now on blood thinners and wears compression socks to reduce the risk of clot formation.
“I’m almost back to 100% of where I was before. I would say 90+. I feel amazing. He gave me my life back, the surgery gave me my life back,” Chase said.
Chase still has another clot in his leg that will be removed in an upcoming procedure, and medication should prevent new clot formation.