Woman's Rare Blood Disease Triggered by Cold Weather

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Woman's Rare Blood Disease Triggered by Cold Weather

 

Two weeks earlier, a 70-year-old woman from New York developed symptoms of a viral respiratory infection. Little did she know that her condition was much worse than that. 

The elderly woman went to the Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown after she started feeling dizzy. She also developed an unusual, spidery purple rash across her entire body. The doctors initially diagnosed her with a skin problem called livedo reticularis caused by spastic blood vessels or abnormal circulation just beneath the skin. However, they were surprised to find out that her blood samples were unusual. 

 

Photo Credit: Live Science

 

Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, reported that the woman’s blood was clear with great crimson clumps instead of appearing a solid color red. Her red blood cells had spontaneously stuck together. According to the case published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the elderly woman had a rare blood disease called cold agglutinin disease wherein the immune system begins destroying red blood cells triggered by the -9C (15F) temperatures.

 

Photo Credit: Live Science

 

The medical team stated that this accounts for about one in 50,000 anemia cases. In the woman’s case, her antibodies bond with red blood cells rather than seek out and destroy invading pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. As a result, her cells undergo a process called agglutination where captured cells pile up in chunky clumps. This could eventually kill the cells and leave people deprived of much-needed blood. 

 

Photo Credit: 123RF

 

According to the Daily Mail, a British daily middle-market newspaper published in London in a tabloid format, the doctors are not sure why it sometimes occurs in patients who show no other symptoms. But they revealed that cold temperatures can send the immune system into overdrive. The woman was kept in hospital for a week, where she was kept warm and given blood transfusions. 

 

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