Blood clotting is one of several unexpected complications from COVID-19 that doctors are seeing in their patients

By Julie Mazziotta
April 23, 2020 01:26 PM
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The new coronavirus, COVID-19, appears to cause dangerous blood clotting in many patients, a potentially deadly complication if the clot travels to the heart, and also a factor that could lead to strokes, doctors across the country are reporting.

A small report from hospitals in New York and Ohio found that blood clotting was a significant issue, and it was backed up by a paper from a large group of international doctors who also found that COVID-19 appears to lead to blood clotting in some patients.

Another study, from the Netherlands, found that more than 20 percent of 184 ICU patients with COVID-19-related pneumonia had blood clotting. And a study from Wuhan, China of 81 COVID-19 patients showed blood clotting in 25 percent.

It’s one of several unexpected complications from the virus, which was initially thought to just cause respiratory problems, though highly severe ones. Doctors are also seeing issues with heart inflammation, kidney disease and liver problems in their patients, and believe it may be due to changes in the blood, The Washington Post reported.

One doctor, Craig Coopersmith, a critical-care surgeon within Emory University’s health system in Atlanta, told the Post that he and his fellow surgeons across the system’s ten hospitals were seeing blood clotting in “as many as 20, 30 or 40 percent of their patients.”

Blood clotting was also a major issue for Nick Cordero, the 41-year-old Broadway star with COVID-19 who is currently in a coma. He was put on blood thinners after doctors noticed clotting in his right leg, but the medication led to issues with his blood pressure and internal bleeding in his intestines, his wife, Amanda Kloots, shared on Instagram. Without the blood thinners, though, the blood clots returned, and doctors had to amputate Cordero’s right leg on April 18.

Nick Cordero

The blood clotting is leading to a significant amount of COVID-19 deaths, but doctors and researchers are unsure as to why it is happening.

“It’s out of the norm, and we’re wondering, are blot clots one of the reasons why these patients are dying?” Dr. Todd Rice, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told CNN.

They are also wondering if the clotting is due to the virus directly attacking the blood, or the body trying to fight the virus.

“One of the theories is that once the body is so engaged in a fight against an invader, the body starts consuming the clotting factors, which can result in either blood clots or bleeding. In Ebola, the balance was more toward bleeding. In covid-19, it’s more blood clots,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiac specialist at the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center, told the Post.

As a precaution, some hospitals, like Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, are preemptively giving small doses of blood thinners to their COVID-19 patients, CNN reported. But too much of a blood thinner can create other health issues, as it did with Cordero.

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