Medics: COVID-19 causes blood thickening
Doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital noticed something strange happening to COVID-19 patients’ blood – signs of blood thickening and clotting Reuters reports.
Signs of blood thickening and clotting were being detected in different organs by doctors from different specialties.
At Mount Sinai, nephrologists noticed kidney dialysis catheters getting plugged with clots. Pulmonologists monitoring COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilators could see portions of lungs were oddly bloodless. Neurosurgeons confronted a surge in their usual caseload of strokes due to blood clots, the age of victims skewing younger, with at least half testing positive for the virus.
One of the ways the virus ravages the body
Doctors start to realize that this would turn out to be one of the alarming ways the virus ravages the body.
Some US doctors already think COVID-19 is more than a lung disease, Dr. J Mocco, a Mount Sinai neurosurgeon, said in an interview. In some cases, Mocco said, a stroke was a young patient’s first symptom of COVID-19.
New treatment protocol with blood-thinning drugs
As colleagues from various specialties pooled their observations, they developed a new treatment protocol. Patients now receive high doses of a blood-thinning drug even before any evidence of clotting appears.
Maybe, just maybe, if you prevent the clotting, you can make the disease less severe,” said Dr. David Reich, the hospital president. The new protocol will not be used on certain high-risk patients because blood thinners can lead to bleeding in the brain and other organs.
Clotting can develop in anyone who gets very sick and spends long periods of time immobile on a ventilator, but doctors say the problem seemed to show up sooner in COVID-19 patients as a more direct consequence of the virus.
At Mount Sinai, patients in intensive care often receive the blood-thinning agent heparin in weaker prophylactic doses. Under the new protocol, higher doses of heparin normally used to dissolve clots will be given to patients before any clots are detected.
The treatment joins a growing toolbox at the hospital, where some patients are receiving the antibody-rich plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients or experimental antiviral drugs.
The American Society of Hematology, which has also noted the clotting, says in its guidance to physicians that the benefits of the blood-thinning therapy for COVID-19 patients not already showing signs of clotting are “currently unknown.”