The strange case of a man whose blood turned white
Their extremely high triglyceride levels caused this effect
The history of this German diabetic patient, aged 39 years, will pass, by his rarity, to the annals of Medicine. When she came to the ER for an episode of nausea, vomiting, headaches and disorientation, the doctors, after extracting a blood sample, found that she had an inexplicably elevated triglyceride levels. Apparently, he had not followed the medication indicated to treat his diabetes, according to the report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body and their lack of control increases the risk of heart disease. The blood of this patient was full of fat, as checked in the samples. Their levels below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) are considered normal. Above 500 mg/dl are very high. However, this man reached 14,000 mg/dl. It was the cause of the milky color that the blood presented, according to the authors of the case report, the Doctors Philipp Koehler and Matthias Kochanek, of the university Hospital of Cologne in Germany, who treated the patient.
Such high triglyceride levels can cause inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis, a potentially serious condition. In fact, the evidence showed that man had elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes. They also revealed that they had diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening complication of diabetes that occurs when the body breaks down fat at a fast rate, leading to an accumulation of acids in the blood called ketones.
The grease obstructed the extraction machine
When a patient has extremely high levels of triglycerides, physicians can use a machine to filter blood fat, a known process of plasmapheresis. In this case, when the equipment tried this way, the machine jammed because of these unusual levels of fat.
There was a second attempt at plasmapheresis, but the machine was still obstructed. They then extracted a liter of blood manually and replaced it with red blood cells and plasma (the liquid portion of blood) of a donor. This led to a decrease in the man’s triglyceride levels, so the doctors withdrew another liter.
Two days later, the man’s triglyceride levels were already low enough for the plasmapheresis machine to function without obstructions. Five days later, the doctors were able to extract the breathing tube from the patient and had no persistent neurological symptoms.
The authors manage the hypothesis that the origin was a combination of insulin resistance, obesity, inadequate diet and poorly treated diabetes. They noted that both ketoacidosis and excess fat are signs of lack of insulin. The tests also showed that the patient had a genetic marker that was associated with higher levels of triglycerides, which could also have increased their risk.