LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — University of Kentucky researchers are making headway in better understanding the link between COVID-19 and blood clots.
Multiple studies released since the pandemic began have confirmed the relationship between the coronavirus and an increase in blood clots in patients diagnosed with the virus.
The University of Kentucky College of Medicine is conducting a study to pinpoint what causes blood clots in COVID-19 patients.
A total of 38 people participated in the study, including eight volunteers who never contracted the coronavirus.
UK researcher Jeremy Wood, one of the study’s leaders, explained to LEX 18 that the university’s study suggests lung damage caused by COVID-19 might be to blame.
“We’re seeing markers of a localized inflammation so we think what might be happening in these patients is they have some inflammation in the lungs being caused by the virus that’s leading to this systemic problem in the clotting system,” Wood said.
Wood explained blood clotting in the body is controlled by procoagulant proteins that cause clotting and anticoagulant proteins that stop clotting. The study suggests imbalances in both play a role when it comes to COVID-19.
“What we’ve seen, particularly in patients that are in the hospital with severe disease, is that they have a lot less of the anticoagulant protein, In particular, one called ‘Protein S’. At the same time, they also have more of the procoagulant protein. The balance is being tipped,” Wood explained. "So, you’re removing the brakes and you’re stepping on the accelerator.”
Evidence from the study also suggests these effects could be long-lasting.
Anticoagulant protein levels remained low in some patients even after they tested negative for COVID-19, according to the research.
“We want to know if once you recover from the virus, do these changes stay, or do they recover as well?” Wood said.
Wood and his team are now recruiting people who have tested positive for COVID-19 for a year-long study to help them learn about the long-term effects of the coronavirus on the human body.
If you are interested in learning more about current clinical trials at the University of Kentucky, you can find more information here.