COVID Triggers Blood Clots


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Blood clots are a major problem for many patients with COVID-19. If you develop one, your disease becomes much more difficult to treat. In one recent study, 31 percent of COVID patients in the ICU had experienced complications related to blood clots. Now, researchers are discovering new insights about why the clots form.

If you have COVID-19, there’s a lot to worry about. Blood clots are one major concern for severely ill patients. In a person with the virus, these dangerous clots can cause a stroke, restrict blood flow in the lungs, and impair oxygen exchange.

“We don’t really understand why it is happening,” explained Ivan Castro, MD, Internist.

But a new study offers some clues. Investigators found that half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were positive for at least one autoantibody. They believe certain autoantibodies in the blood attack cells and trigger clots in arteries, veins, and vessels. The next step is to test whether removing or blocking these antibodies could help protect against clots.

You can help prevent clots in general by avoiding smoking, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight.

“If you can defeat the virus, then the complications from the virus will resolve,” continued Dr. Castro.

Doctor Castro emphasizes that wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and practicing social distancing are your best defenses.

Scientists say they also want to figure out why some people with COVID produce these antibodies and others do not. They’re also currently studying how long these antibodies remain in circulation after someone recovers from the COVID-19 virus.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor

REPORT #2816

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 attacks the body in many ways, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Different organs and tissues of the body can be affected, including the blood. Blood clots can form and cause problems to an infected individual. If a clot blocks blood flow in a vein or artery, the tissue normally nourished by that blood vessel can be deprived of oxygen, and cells in that area can die. “In some people with COVID-19, we’re seeing a massive inflammatory response, the cytokine storm that raises clotting factors in the blood,” says Panagis Galiatsatos, a specialist in lung diseases and critical care medicine at John Hopkins. In a study out of UC San Diego Health, 20 percent of the COVID-19 patients were found to have blood clots in the veins, and among patients in the intensive care unit, that statistic increased to 31 percent.

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THE IMPACT OF BLOOD CLOTS WITH COVID: The concern for blood clots associated with COVID-19 is not only to the lungs. It can also harm other organs, for example, the nervous system. Blood clots in the arteries leading to the brain can cause a stroke. Some previously young, healthy people who have developed COVID-19 have suffered strokes, possibly due to abnormal blood clotting. The clogging of blood vessels in the kidney with blood clots can lead to kidney failure. It can also complicate dialysis if the clots clog the filter of the machine designed to remove impurities in the blood. Finally, small blood clots can become lodged in tiny blood vessels. When this happens close to the skin, it can result in a rash. Some people who test positive for COVID-19 develop tiny blood clots that cause reddish or purple areas on the toes, which can itch or be painful. Sometimes called “COVID toe”, the rash resembles frostbite.


NEW TREATMENT POSSIBILITY: Robert Brodsky, a blood specialist who directs the Division of Hematology at Johns Hopkins, is studying the intense inflammation that occurs in some patients who have the coronavirus. The research is narrowing down a way to prevent the destructive organ damage that COVID-19 causes in some people. The team found that the spike protein on the coronavirus activates a part of the immune system known as complement and hijacks the body’s immune system and turns it against healthy tissue. Research showed that blocking the complement protein factor D could interrupt the cascade of events that lead to severe illness and organ damage. “What we discovered is how this coronavirus activates a series of reactions in the immune system that lead to inflammation and cell destruction,” Brodsky says. “Blocking this pathway can prevent that damage.” Other diseases affect the body using a similar pathway. Brodsky and his research team hope that medicines now in development to treat those conditions might help people with COVID-19.


* For More Information, Contact:

Ivan Castro, MD

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