As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages a world still grappling with vast uncertainty over the virus, a new and unnerving pattern has emerged in some patients.
Though novel coronavirus symptoms thus far have presented chiefly within the respiratory system, the infection is swiftly showing to be an all-out, system-wide assault that reaches far past the lungs. Doctors in hot spots across the globe have begun to report an unexpected prevalence of blood clotting among COVID cases, in what could pose a perfect storm of potentially fatal risk factors.
In New Orleans, a man in his 30s was admitted to the hospital a week into treatment for the flu, severely sick. Developing shortness of breath, chest pain and an abnormally rapid heart rate — he was tested for coronavirus — doctors realized those symptoms also are typical of a pulmonary embolism: a potentially deadly blood clot that can move from the legs to the lungs and damage the heart.
The man’s blood work already showed heart damage, though he had no known underlying medical conditions, no recent travel, no recent surgeries. His chest scans, shown first to ABC News, revealed a massive clot. Termed a “saddle embolus” because it hooks over branches of both pulmonary arteries, it was severely stressing the right side of the heart, unable to push blood against the clot already in its strained state.
“Thankfully, we were able to find this and treat this early, otherwise it probably would have killed him,” Dr. Siyab Panhwar, a cardiovascular consult for the patient, told ABC News.