Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital
While respiratory issues continue to be the most common symptom of COVID-19, research indicates the disease may also be associated with hypercoagulability or increased tendency of the blood to clot.
Coagulation, or clotting, is the process by which blood changes from a liquid to a gel resulting in the formation of a blood clot. Blood clots can affect anyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), blood clots affect about 900,000 people each year with about 100,000 of those resulting in death. Treatment can be as much as $20,000 per person and often results in hospital readmission.
Clotting is a necessary process that can help you from losing too much blood in circumstances such as a severe injury or cut. Some blood clots go away on their own over weeks or months. Clots can form toward the surface of the skin or deep within the body and can be complex. There are three basic parts with the first being the formation of a platelet plug. Platelets are blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding. They circulate in the blood as first responders to injury.
A clotting cascade is the next reaction to the injury where platelet activity switches various molecules from inactive to active states. This yields a netlike mesh made of fibrin, a protein that reinforces the platelet plug and snares passing red blood cells.
When danger passes, a reverse cascade dissolves called clot dissolution. This process involves the friction of blood flow, the removal of pro-clotting chemicals by the liver, and the activation of chemicals that produce a clot-dissolving enzyme called plasmin.
Blood clots can travel to the arteries or veins in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and limbs, which in turn can cause heart attack, stroke, damage to the body’s organs, or even death. Blood clots or thrombus, is blood that converts from liquid to a solid form. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are blood clots located in deep veins, usually in a leg or arm. Pulmonary embolisms are clots that have traveled from a deep vein to a lung.
There is no way of knowing if you have a blood clot without medical guidance. Signs of blood clots include unexplained fatigue, redness or inflammation, varicose veins, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, sweats, dizziness or fainting, increased heart rate, or an unexplained cough.
Risk factors include age (especially those over 65), travel where you are sitting for a lengthy period of time, bed rest or being sedentary for a significant amount of time, obesity, pregnancy, family history, and chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
Diagnosing a blood clot by symptoms can be very challenging. According to the CDC, about 50 percent of people have no symptoms. If concerned, your physician can send you for tests such as a noninvasive ultrasound. Under medical supervision your physician will help you identify the best medication and treatment plan to dissolve your clots and address the medical issue causing them.
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