Are astronauts more likely to develop blood clots during space missions due to zero gravity? That’s the question NASA is trying to answer with help from UNC School of Medicine’s Stephan Moll, MD, professor in the Division of Hematology within the UNC Department of Medicine. A new publication in Vascular Medicine shows the results of an occupational surveillance program spurred by the development of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the jugular vein of an astronaut, which is described in detail in a New England Journal of Medicine publication from 2020.
Moll was consulted by NASA when the discovery of the blood clot was made during the astronaut’s mission on the International Space Station (ISS). This was the first time a blood clot had been found in an astronaut in space, so there was no established method of treatment for DVT in zero gravity. Moll, a member of the UNC Blood Research Center and a clinical hematologist, was called upon for his knowledge and treatment experience of DVT on Earth. In the ultimate act of telemedicine, Moll and NASA physicians helped treat the astronaut over several months, until they safely returned to Earth.