As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the planet, doctors and scientists alike are understanding the virus more, and that includes the symptoms it produces in patients.
Recently, doctors noticed that some people with severe coronavirus cases were developing an extremely deadly symptom - blood clots. If you didn't know, blood clots can lead to the patient having a stroke, and this symptom is even prevalent in younger coronavirus victims that had no previous health complications. So why is this happening?
According to doctors from the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI, and St James's Hospital, Dublin who conducted a study that was published in the British Journal of Haematology, some cases severe coronavirus patients were found to have mico-clots that develop inside the lungs. These micro-clots can lead to a higher rate of clotting, which then result in an increased chance of stroke or heart attack.
According to Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI, Professor James O'Donnell, "Our novel findings demonstrate that COVID-19 is associated with a unique type of blood clotting disorder that is primarily focussed within the lungs and which undoubtedly contributes to the high levels of mortality being seen in patients with COVID-19."
O'Donnell also said that while COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia, which affects the small air sacs in the lungs, it can also cause some patients to develop hundreds of small blood clots throughout the lungs. These clots can find their way to the brain or the heart, which can then result in the patients having a stroke or heart attack. This symptom isn't found in other types of lung infections and can explain why COVID-19 patients have such a dramatic drop in blood oxygen levels.
So how do we treat this problem? O'Donnell says that more studies need to be conducted to see if blood-thinning medication could be used on severe COVID-19 patients to reduce the risk of clots developing.
"In addition to pneumonia affecting the small air sacs within the lungs, we are also finding hundreds of small blood clots throughout the lungs. This scenario is not seen with other types of lung infection, and explains why blood oxygen levels fall dramatically in severe COVID-19 infection. Further studies will be required to investigate whether different blood-thinning treatments may have a role in selected high-risk patients in order to reduce the risk of clot formation" said O'Donnell.
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