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The scariest coronavirus symptom might be more serious than we thought

Published May 4th, 2020 12:11PM EDT
Coronavirus Symptoms
Image: MURTAJA LATEEF/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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  • Blood clotting is among the more severe symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease, as several reports and studies have said in the past few weeks.
  • A report from Italy says that doctors who performed autopsies on COVID-19 victims noticed a serious blood disorder that might cause respiratory side effects, including pneumonia.
  • Other doctors treating COVID-19 patients have noticed an increased risk of blood clotting that could lead to stroke or a heart attack.
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Several reports have revealed in the past few weeks a few strange symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Doctors in various countries noticed that some of the people admitted to hospitals on suspicion of a heart attack were actually infected with the virus. Others found that the patients who seemed to feature symptomatology pointing to neurological problems were also found to be COVID-19 positive. We then learned that an increasing number of young adults came to the emergency room with signs of a stroke, and it turned out these vascular incidents were all caused by blood clotting due to the virus. Separately, researchers who studied clotting in COVID-19 patients found a new vascular disorder caused by the virus, which they called pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy (PIC). They reasoned that PIC is “primarily focussed within the lungs” and “undoubtedly contributes to the high levels of mortality being seen in patients with COVID-19.”

It turns out that blood clotting due to the novel coronavirus might be a lot more severe than we thought, and some doctors in Italy believe that the hematological symptoms are what cause pulmonary complications.

Pneumonia might not be the primary pathology of COVID-19, say Italian doctors who have performed autopsies on patients who died from COVID-19 complications. Instead, it’s the blood that’s affected the most, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

Doctors from hospitals in Milano and Bergamo have performed around 70 autopsies on COVID-19 patients. The two cities are about one hour away from each other and they’re both in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy, which has been the epicenter of the disease in the country and Europe. The results seem to indicate that blood clotting is what can cause complications, including pneumonia.

The first COVID-19 victims in the country may not have been diagnosed correctly, the report notes. The disease causes what’s described as systemic vascular inflammation. The virus affects the circulation of the blood and this impacts the function of the lungs. The ventilators, this report notes, might complicate things rather than help patients in critical condition.

As a result of these findings, COVID-19 therapy should include drugs that fight inflammation as well as blood thinners that could prevent clotting and could reduce the risk of stroke or a heart attack.

What’s important to note is there’s no study to back up any of these findings that Il Giornale has relayed. As with other unusual COVID-19 results, more research is required. What is clear, however, is that these findings seem to echo recent reports from other regions around the world about the increased likelihood of blood clotting in COVID-19 patients.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.