Autopsies of patients who died from COVID-19 have shown a “dramatic” increase in the number of blood clots that affect large and small blood vessels and “almost every organ” in the human body, according to a leading New York pathologist.
Amy Rapkiewicz, chair of pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, said CNN On Thursday, when she expected the virus to cause coagulation in the lungs and lines of various large blood vessels, doctors found whole body coagulation in her recent coronavirus study.
“And that was dramatic because, although we might have expected it in the lungs, we found it in almost every organ that we examined in our autopsy study,”
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is known to affect the upper respiratory tract and cause cardiovascular problems in patients with severe symptoms. Many patients who are severely affected by the virus see a rapid heartbeat and increased blood clots during ventilation, and some may even experience cardiac arrest.
In the pathologist’s study published in the Lancet Journal EClinicalMedicine, the researchers also found the existence of megakaryocytes, bone marrow cells that normally don’t circulate outside the bones and lungs, according to Rapkiewicz.
“We found them in the heart, kidneys, liver and other organs,” she said. “Especially in the heart, megakaryocytes produce so-called platelets, which are closely involved in blood clotting.”
These results could provide insight into how these cells affect coagulation and overall physical response when patients fight the coronavirus.
The latest insights come as medical professionals around the world try to learn more about the disease that has infected more than 12.2 million people worldwide and killed more than 555,000 people.
Researchers in the U.S. are seeking therapeutic treatments and a vaccine against the disease as the nation continues to be hit by new outbreaks in the south and west of the country.
In the U.S., there are more than 3.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 133,000 deaths from the disease, more than any other nation in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.