A new, and frightening, expression of COVID-19 infection has surfaced. Numerous physicians around the world are reporting a possibly increased risk for blood clots in patients with COVID-19.
Blood clots (what doctors call thrombosis) are particularly worrisome because of the potential consequences. Blood clots in the veins can travel to the lungs (which is called pulmonary embolus), a potentially life threatening problem.
Blood clots in the arterial system are even more alarming because these can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and amputations.
COVID-19 appears to increase blood clots in both the arteries and the veins.
Although all of the studies are small and observational at this point, one study from the Netherlands showed that 31% of subjects with COVID-19 in the ICU developed blood clots despite usual measures to prevent clotting. Another small study from China showed that 25% of the COVID-19 patients developed blood clots in the veins. These are shockingly high numbers.
Physicians are particularly troubled by this possible blood clotting issue for several reasons. One is that the usual treatments (such as blood thinner medications) aren’t working for some patients.
Another reason is the report of COVID-19 positive people as young as their 30’s experiencing large strokes that are more typically seen in a much older population.
More information is needed to understand if this is a true correlation between COVID-19 and blood clotting disorder, what the mechanism is, and, most importantly, how to prevent and treat it.
For now, be aware that there’s reason to suspect that COVID-19 could possibly put people at risk for stroke. So, be alert for stroke symptoms – sudden weakness, numbness, trouble speaking, seeing, or the onset of a severe headache without other explanation – even if you wouldn’t ordinarily need to be concerned about stroke risk, and even without other signs of COVID-19 infection.
If you do experience symptoms that may be stroke related, it is critically important to seek urgent medical attention.
Timing is crucial because the best treatments for these types of stroke need to be delivered in the first 3 hours of symptoms to be most effective. As stroke neurologists like to say, “Time is brain.”
And if you suspect a stroke in someone else, act F.A.S.T. :
F.A.S.T stands for:
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call your doctor right away.
Understandably, some are reluctant to go to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, but when it comes to a stroke, the consequences of delaying medical treatment could be devastating. Don’t delay. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.
To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:
•Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
•Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
•Avoid touching your face.
•Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
•Stay home if you feel unwell.
•Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
•Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
As the cases of infected persons continue to rise in Nigeria amidst the lockdown in some states, President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states as from 9am on Monday May 4.
He said this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.
Buhari stated this in a broadcast to the nation at the expiration of two weeks of extended lockdown in the two states and FCT.
He said the need to relax the lockdown was based on recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, various Federal Government committees that have reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors Forum.
Buhari gave the highlights of the new nationwide measures on the ease of the lockdown as follows:
Selected businesses and offices can open from 9am to 6pm and there will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am. This means all movements will be prohibited during this period, except essential services. There will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travels until further notice.
“There will be partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services to allow for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers and we will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.”
“Furthermore, the restrictions on social and religious gatherings shall remain in place. State governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens. For the avoidance of doubt, the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states shall subsist until these new ones come into effect on Monday, May 4, 2020 at 9am. The Presidential Task Force shall provide sector specific details and timing guidelines to allow for preparations by governments, businesses and institutions.”
“The above are guidelines. State governors may choose to adapt and expand based on their unique circumstances provided they maintain alignment with guidelines issued on public health and hygiene
“These revised guidelines will not apply for Kano State. The total lockdown recently announced by the state government shall be enforced for the full duration. The Federal Government shall deploy all necessary human, material and technical resources to support the state in controlling and containing the pandemic.”
President Buhari commended frontline workers across the country, who on a daily basis, risk everything to win the COVID-19 fight.