Physicians seek solutions for severe COVID-19 patients who develop blood clots

Some severely ill COVID-19 patients are developing blood clots in their lungs, physicians have found, but they do not have a treatment for it, according to STAT News.

Physicians are trying out various methods — some are using tissue plasminogen activator, a drug that reduces the formation of blood clots, while others are considering the use of heparin, a blood thinner, to prevent clots from forming in the first place.

Some physicians have found patients with blood clots forming in their blood vessels, and autopsies show blood clots in kidneys and other organs. Some experts say that this indicates that the immune response to fight the virus can cause harm to other parts of the body.

There is an urgent need for evidence-based research on how to treat these blood clots. So far physicians and researchers from several countries, including the U.S., published case reports of COVID-19 patients with these blood clots.

One report out of China says that 7 out of 10 patients who died of COVID-19 had small blood clots in their bloodstream, versus less than 1 in 100 patients who survived the disease, STAT reports.

A U.S. case report, which included three COVID-19 patients on ventilators, shows that initially the patients did better when they were given tissue plasminogen activator therapy. One of them died, one improved for a short period, and one had a long-lasting positive response.

"This is a real-time learning experience," Clyde Yancy, MD, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told STAT. "I don't think any of us can declare anything definitively, but we know from the best available data that about one-third of patients who have COVID-19 infections do in fact have evidence of thrombotic disease."

A group of U.S. researchers are waiting for FDA approval to begin a clinical trial to determine the role of tissue plasminogen activator therapy in treating COVID-19 patients with blood clots, STAT reports.


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