A woman has revealed she was shocked to learn that her heart is on the wrong side of her chest after visiting her doctor with a persistent cough.
Claire Mack, 19, of Chicago, Illinois, had been coughing for two months in a row — but didn’t decide to get it checked out until she was in the hospital in June for a tetanus shot. She eventually got an X-ray, which revealed the unexpected results.
“I work in the nightlife, so I’ve been exposed to a lot of colds, and I got a bad one when things reopened two and a half months ago,” Claire, a college student, told Jam Press.
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What do you say? Claire Mack, 19, of Chicago, Illinois, found her heart on the wrong side of the chest while she got a persistent cough checked out in June
Wild: The doctor found out she was suffering from a lung infection and took an X-ray. The scans showed that her heart was on the right instead of the left
Diagnosis: Claire was diagnosed with dextrocardia, a rare congenital condition in which the heart is directed to the right side of the chest instead of the left
“It was persistent and long-lasting, even with medication.
“I went to the ER at the end of June because I needed a tetanus shot after cutting myself on barbed wire, and I decided to have them look at my cough as well.”
The doctor found that Claire was suffering from a lung infection and took an X-ray.
‘They [the doctor] looked really shocked and said, “Okay, this is a little weird, but did you know your heart is on the right side of your chest instead of the left?”‘ Claire recalled.
“I was so confused and started laughing because I really didn’t believe it. The doctor explained that it is called dextrocardia and that I should inform my GP about my condition.
Going viral: the student shared her shocking story in a TikTok that has been viewed more than three million times
Stunned: Viewers couldn’t believe she went through her whole life without one of her doctors realizing her heart was on the wrong side
‘I kept saying, ‘What, are you serious?’ I was honestly in shock and very confused about how I didn’t know before I was 19 years old.’
Dextrocardia is a rare congenital condition in which the heart is directed to the right side of the chest instead of the left.
Less than one percent of the general population is born with it.
“My mom and dad were also in shock and extremely confused,” Claire said. ‘My father was really shocked and my mother thought it was hilarious that I only found out so far.
Surprising: Claire explained that she’d never had a chest X-ray, so there was no way for her doctors to know anything about the congenital condition
Still healthy: dextrocardia is usually not life-threatening and Claire does not currently need medical follow-up
“I’d never had a chest X-ray before, so there was no way of knowing my heart is upside down,” she explained.
“My GP did a checkup on me and said my heart is beating faster on the right side – but clearly you can’t diagnose dextrocardia from that alone.”
Dextrocardia is usually not life-threatening and Claire does not currently require medical follow-up. She’ll just go on living with her heart on the wrong side.
WHAT IS DEXTROCARDIA?
Dextrocardia is a congenital condition in which the heart is directed to the right side of the chest. Normally the heart points to the left.
A baby’s heart develops during the first weeks of pregnancy. In some cases, the heart turns to the right side of the chest. The reasons for this are unclear.
There are different types of dextrocardia. Many types involve other defects of the heart and abdomen.
In the simplest type of dextrocardia, the heart is a mirror image of the normal heart and there are no other problems. This condition is rare. When this happens, the organs of the abdomen and lungs will often also be arranged in mirror image. For example, the liver will be on the left instead of the right.
Other heart defects are also present in the more common forms of dextrocardia.
Claire took her @caremack TikTok account in late June to share her story, as she filmed herself walking down the street with a caption explaining what had happened.
The post has so far been viewed three million times, with more than 400,000 likes, with viewers admittedly stunned by the turn of events.
“How have you been alive for so long and nobody noticed?” one person asked, while another stunned user added, ‘How is it not? [doctor] catch this?’
Someone else said, “Sorry, I didn’t even know that was possible, it happens often, this is the first time I’ve heard of this.”
One terrified user said it was a “new fear unlocked,” but other viewers insisted it was “so cool.”