The Silent Way COVID Can Kill You, Study Says
While the majority of people recover from COVID-19, more than 232,000 Americans have died after contracting the virus. Researchers continue to explore why some people don't show a single symptom when infected, while others end up fighting for their lives. According to a new study, it may have something to do COVID-induced blood clots, and more specifically, what causes them in the first place. Read on to learn more about how blood clots can affect you, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
What is the Silent Way COVID Can Kill You?
The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, found that some of the deadly clotting is triggered by an autoimmune antibody in the blood, which attacks cells and induces the clots in arteries, veins, and microscopic vessels. These types of blood clots can induce strokes and restrict blood flow in the lungs, two things that prove deadly for COVID patients.
Yogen Kanthi, M.D., an assistant professor at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center and a Lasker Investigator at the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, explains that similar clot-causing antibodies are also experienced by patients with a rare autoimmune disease antiphospholipid syndrome.
"In patients with COVID-19, we continue to see a relentless, self-amplifying cycle of inflammation and clotting in the body," Kanthi said, per MedicalXpress. "Now we're learning that autoantibodies could be a culprit in this loop of clotting and inflammation that makes people who were already struggling even sicker."
Co-corresponding author Jason Knight, M.D., Ph.D., a rheumatologist at Michigan Medicine, has been studying antiphospholipid syndrome antibodies in the general population for years, claims it is "Some of the worst clotting we've ever seen."
"Half of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were positive for at least one of the autoantibodies, which was quite a surprise," he said.
According to their findings, half of the extremely ill patients involved in the study experienced these types of antibodies as well as "super-activated neutrophils," dangerous, exploding white blood cells.
"Antibodies from patients with active COVID-19 infection created a striking amount of clotting in animals—some of the worst clotting we've ever seen," Kanthi said. "We've discovered a new mechanism by which patients with COVID-19 may develop blood clots."
They also pointed out that people with the highest amount of these autoantibodies fared worse in terms of respiratory function, which even caused inflammation in healthy cells.
The Next Step is to Identify the Triggers
"We don't yet know what is triggering the body to produce these antibodies, so the next step would be additional research to identify the triggers and the targets of the antibodies," Knight added. As for yourself, protect yourself: Wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.