ROCHESTER, Minn. - Doctors are noticing a disturbing link in patients who have died from COVID-19 complications. We're talking about blood clots. The alarming thing to note here is that majority of the patients who have formed blood clots, doctors weren't able to detect them until after they died.
Doctors looked at the organs of people who died from COVID-19 and noticed very, very small blood clots in the heart in nearly all of them. When someone is diagnosed with the virus, small blood clots can begin to form in the blood vessels. This isn't for everyone with the infection though and most of the time it's discovered during the autopsy. Dr. Joe Maleszewski with Mayo Clinic explained they aren't exactly sure what is causing the blood clots. "People with preexisting heart disease or other conditions, it's possible that those are just enough to tilt the scales for those individuals," he said. "That may explain why some people who have preexisting heart disease or things like that fair worse with COVID-19 than those who are otherwise healthy."
Doctors went back to see if this was common within other respiratory viruses and it wasn't, it was exclusive to just COVID-19. Dr. Maleszewski said there's no way to know if someone who has been diagnosed with the virus will form the blood clots. "There's a lot that's scary about COVID and a lot that we're learning and that's the fortunate thing I guess though," he explained. "Everyday we learn a little bit more and a little bit more and as we learn more, things become less scary. So as we start to understand things and put the puzzle together, the picture becomes more clearer and I think that allows us to be more targeted on our approach to these patients." He said blood thinners are a possible treatment if doctors can catch the blood clots in time.
Dr. Maleszewski explained there's a trend across the country where people are trying to decrease the number of autopsies performed, but this situation is the perfect example of why they are so important to medicine.