As doctors learn more about what makes COVID-19 so serious for some patients, they have discovered a mysterious and potentially fatal complication of the disease: blood clots.
Many doctors have reported seeing an alarming number of COVID-19 patients with blood clots – gel-like clumps in the blood that can cause serious problems, such as a heart attack and stroke, according to reports.
“The number of clotting problems I see in the ICU [intensive care unit], all linked to COVID-19, is unprecedented “, Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, hematologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told CNN.
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Some doctors have started to notice that their COVID-19 patients develop clots in their legs, even when taking blood thinners, according to The Washington Post. Others have reported problems with dialysis machines for COVID-19 patients, as blood clots in the patients’ blood would clog the tubes of the machine, CNN said.
In addition, some COVID-19 autopsies found tiny blood clots in the lungs, the Post reported.
There are also reports of relatively young people in their 30s and 40s who have had a stroke after being infected with the new coronavirus, according to CNN. We know that strokes are often caused by blotter clots that break free and travel to the vessels of the brain.
The link between COVID-19 and clots has led some hospitals to put all COVID-19 patients on low doses of anticoagulants to prevent clots, according to CNN.
It is not uncommon for intensive care patients to experience blood clots, but the level of clotting with COVID-19 seems to be out of the ordinary, CNN reported. A recent study from the Netherlands, published in the journal Thrombosis research, discovered that out of 184 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, more than 30% had a clotting problem. The figure is “alarming,” Dr. Behnood Bikdeli, a cardiovascular researcher at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told CNN.
Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, doctors expected the most serious effects to occur in the lungs, not in the blood. It is still not known why COVID-19 patients suffer from these clots.
Clots could be the result of hyperactivity immune system, which leads to an imbalance of “clotting factors” that can cause clotting or bleeding, the Post reported.
But doctors note that many COVID-19 patients in the ICU also have other risk factors for blood clots, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, according to CNN.
Doctors say there is an urgent need to investigate this problem and whether anticoagulants can help COVID-19 patients, CNN reported.
Originally posted on Live Science.