First case of blood clot in space treated from Earth

Physicians detected the first case of a blood clot in space and treated it from Earth, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Serena Auñón-Chancellor, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine's in Baton Rouge, La., was the lead author of the study involving 11 astronauts stationed on the International Space Station. The study intended to help close gaps in knowledge about circulatory physiology.

The astronauts underwent ultrasounds of their internal jugular veins, performed at scheduled times in different positions during the mission. About two months into the mission, the ultrasounds revealed a blood clot in one astronaut.

This was the first time NASA had encountered this condition in space. The space station pharmacy had injectable enoxaparin, a blood thinner, but no blood thinner reversal medications.

The physician team told the astronaut to begin treatment with the injectable enoxaparin. The astronaut initially took a higher dose, which was reduced after 33 days so that it would last until apixaban, an oral blood thinner, and blood thinner reversal drugs could be brought in via a supply spacecraft. The astronaut took the apixaban until four days before returning to Earth.

Once on Earth, the astronaut had more ultrasound examins, which showed no need for taking more blood thinners. The clot was gone in 10 days. Even after six months, the astronaut showed no concerning symptoms from the blood clot.

The astronaut had no personal or family history of blood clots.

"These new findings demonstrate that the human body still surprises us in space," said Dr. Auñón-Chancellor, who is also a member of NASA's astronaut corps.

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