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In late 2021, Jenny Camareno was on a mission. She was watching what she ate. She was exercising. She had lost 30 pounds and was feeling great. But by February and March of 2022, the 29-year-old mother of two felt her health declining.
“I was suddenly having shortness of breath,” explained Camareno. “There was even a time that I was so weak; I fell when starting to walk downstairs. I kind of slid down the staircase – getting a rug burn along the way. It got to the point that I couldn’t function at all or even get out of bed.”
That’s when Camareno decided she’d had enough – she called an ambulance and was taken to the emergency room at AdventHealth Orlando. As she was evaluated, the team discussed potential causes of the extreme fatigue – possibly a new medication. They also discovered Camareno recently had COVID-19. But imaging results in the ER revealed something far more deadly, severe blood clots in both lung arteries. Dr. Rohit Bhatheja, an interventional cardiologist, was called to consult on the case.
“Jenny’s heart was enlarged because the clots were blocking the blood flow to the heart,” explained Bhatheja. “There was almost zero blood flow into her heart. The clots in the lung arteries had to be removed so we could relieve the pressure.”
Dr. Bhatheja and the team wasted no time getting Camareno into the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. Camareno was awake during the procedure, where Dr. Bhatheja inserted a thin catheter into an artery in her groin and maneuvered it to her lungs. He could suction out the clots through the catheter, ultimately removing the cause of stress on Camareno’s heart.
“In cases like this, it’s critical to remove the clots because left untreated; this will certainly lead to a heart attack,” Bhatheja said. “Patients like Jenny have ten times the mortality rate of the general population because of these severe clots.”
“Dr. Bhathaja talked me through the entire procedure,” recalls Camareno. “He really helped me relax and feel comfortable. In just a few days, I was walking around again and could go back home.”
Camareno says the actual cause of her clots is still unknown. It could have been the result of high-dose birth control, a symptom of COVID, or both. But now, she is back to work as a practice manager at a physician’s office in Winter Park, caring for her five and nine-year-old children. She also pays even more attention to her health because once you’ve had blood clots, you are at increased risk of having them again.
“I really pay attention to things that affect my health like food and medications,” says Camareno. “I definitely have more peace of mind now. This certainly was a life-changing experience.”