Can you really die from a hickey?

Hickey Causes Stroke, Kills 17-year-old Teen

If you're going to get a blood clot, it almost certainly won't have come from a hickey.

A teenager in Mexico City recently died after going into convulsions over dinner with his family. Local media have reported that a hickey (or chupetón) the teen received from his girlfriend caused a blood clot that in turn led to his fatal stroke.

Should you be worried about getting a blood clot from your next love bite?

No. You really should not. It's not impossible that a hickey could cause a blood clot that leads to a stroke, but it's incredibly unlikely, according to Charles Abrams, president of the American Society of Hematology and a hematologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It could happen if a person's blood vessels are torn during the chomp. "But I think that would be pretty hard to do," he says.

Blood clots can form both in veins, which carry blood to your heart, and in arteries, which are more muscular and carry blood away from it. Clots are more likely to form when blood flow is sluggish, and can be related to a variety of different conditions.

If a clot forms or becomes lodged in an artery, it can cut off blood flow to the heart or part of the brain, causing a heart attack or a stroke. This is typically caused by to atherosclerosis—in which plaques of fat and cholesterol build up in the arteries, making them harder and narrower—rather than an injury.

It's more common for injuries to cause blood clots to form in a vein. "I'm very surprised that a hickey could actually do this," Abrams says. "It has to be real trauma in order to cause an arterial clot, probably much more significant than the trauma that it takes to form a clot in a vein."

This is not the only report of a love bite apparently causing a blood clot and stroke. In 2010, the New Zealand Medical Journaldescribed the case of a 44-year-old woman who experienced weakness in her arm several days after getting a hickey. She recovered after being treated with blood thinners. The physicians who wrote up her report described the incident as "an uncommon mode of blunt trauma" to the neck and carotid artery.

Blood clots in veins don't typically cause strokes, but they can lead to deep vein thrombosis, aka the reason you should stretch your legs during a long flight. Clots that form in the deep veins of your legs, arms or torso can become lodged in the lungs, a dangerous situation called pulmonary embolism.

The odds of dying from a hickey-induced blood clot are vanishingly small. But venous blood clots kill more people than breast cancer, car crashes, and AIDS combined each year. "I'm struck by this hickey-associated clot, but I'm more concerned about the more common and real risk of having a clot in a vein," Abrams says.

Click below for stroke risk factors and symptoms:

Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms
See Gallery
Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms

Strokes are more common among the elderly, with the chance of stroke nearly doubling each decade after the age of 55. 

(Photo via Getty)

Stroke risk is greater in those whose immediate family members have had a stroke, and a stroke can be a symptom of various hereditary disorders.

(Photo by Yellow Dog Productions via Getty)

The risk of death from stroke is higher in African-Americans as they also have higher risks of complications like high blood pressure and diabetes. 

(Photo via Getty)

Women are also more likely to die of a stroke, possibly due to factors such as birth control usage and pregnancy complications.

(Photo by Hinterhaus Productions via Getty)

Strokes are more likely in people who have already suffered a stroke or a heart attack. 

(Photo by Morsa Images via Getty)

Southeastern states are also called the "stroke belt" states, as strokes are more common in this area. 

(Photo via Getty)

Alcohol abuse can lead to many problems, including strokes. 

(Photo via Getty)

Speech difficulties are a major symptom of someone who has had or is having a stroke.

(Photo by Henrik Sorensen via Getty)

Possibly the most noticeable sign of stroke is the drooping of one side of the face, or face numbness.

(Photo via Getty)

Weakness on one side of the body is another symptom of a stroke. 

(Photo via Getty)


Read Full Story