Patient Story: Timing Is Everything

February 17, 2022

Inger DeLanyInger DeLany, resident of Westford, was a healthy, 45-year-old when she started feeling short of breath, dizzy, and a little shaky at work. She thought those feelings would pass as the day went on, but about an hour later, she fainted outside of her car.

She was taken by ambulance to the Emergency Department at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (LHMC). Almost immediately, she was sent in for an X-ray and CT where it was determined she had a massive, life-threatening blood clot in her lungs.

"I remember thinking that [having a blood clot] was crazy, that I was too young. Other than the fainting and shortness of breath, I felt fine and didn't believe it was anything serious,"DeLany shared.

At that point, DeLany met with several doctors to discuss her options to dissolve the clot. They knew something needed to be done urgently to save her life. She opted for a procedure where a tube would be inserted into her lung with powerful blood thinners to dissolve the clot. The procedure was a success!

"After talking to my doctors, I am amazed at how serious my condition was and how quickly I recovered. The team at LHMC saved my life. If I had not gotten there when I did, and they hadn't responded as quickly as they did, I likely wouldn't be here."

Now, DeLany is back to feeling great, exercising and eating well. As hopeful and promising her story is, it is also a gentle reminder to be aware of warning signs for blood clots.

"Often, blood clots can start in the legs causing discomfort, pain, cramps or swelling. Once the blood clot travels to the lung, as it did for Inger, it can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, overwhelming fatigue or fainting," Dr. Lee Joseph, MD, MS, vascular cardiologist and chair of the Lahey Women's Heart Center shared. "Women who are pregnant, on hormone treatments, above ideal body weight, older than 40 years and smoke have increased risk for blood clots. Women with a personal or family history of blood clots should consult with a specialist."

With heart disease being the leading cause of death for women in the US, it's important to act fast when experiencing possible symptoms.

"I kept telling myself I was fine and just needed to eat. I knew something was off, though. Your body is talking to you when something is wrong, so listen to it! Call 911 or go to the ER!"

February is American Heart Month. Learn more about Cardiovascular Medicine at LHMC.