Is This What’s Behind Long Covid? Sufferers have ‘microblood clots’ that can prevent oxygen from flowing properly through the body
- ‘Long transporters’ have trapped a large amount of inflammatory molecules in the blood
- These blockages can interfere with the body’s ability to distribute oxygen
- It could explain the most common symptoms of Covid, such as fatigue and headaches
Lung Covid may be caused by an overload of small clots ‘trapped’ in people’s blood weeks after they clear the initial infection, scientists say.
The small study found that patients who are “long transporters” have a large amount of inflammatory molecules in their bloodstream.
These blockages can interfere with the body’s ability to distribute oxygen and essential nutrients, they said.
It could long explain the most common symptoms of Covid, such as fatigue, headaches and breathing difficulties.
The South African researcher who made the discovery said the microclots could be the cause of long-term Covid or one of several contributing factors.
A scientist has found that long Covid patients have microclots in their blood months after the initial infection. On the left is a picture of healthy blood plasma (blood plasma is the largest type of fluid that makes up blood, accounting for 55 percent of the total), and on the right is a picture of one of the microclots found in the blood. The material in both samples was marked for analysis using fluorescent materials.
The South African researcher who made the discovery said the microclots could be the cause of long-term Covid or one of several contributing factors (file)
The new discovery came from Professor Resia Pretorius of the Department of Physiological Science at Stellenbosch University.
Professor Pretorius compared blood collected from 11 people with long-term Covid and 13 healthy individuals.
What is long Covid?
Most coronavirus patients recover within 14 days, develop a fever, cough and lose their sense of smell or taste for several days.
However, the virus can persist for weeks at a time in “long transporters” – the term for patients plagued with lasting complications.
Data from the Covid Symptom Study app, by King’s College London and health company Zoe, suggest that one in 10 people still have symptoms after three weeks, and some can suffer from them for months.
Long-term symptoms include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased heart rate
- to succeed
- Loss of taste/odor
- kidney disease
- Mobility issues
- muscle strain
“We found high levels of several inflammatory molecules trapped in microclots present in the blood of individuals with long-term Covid,” she said.
‘Some of the entrapped molecules contain clotting proteins such as fibrinogen, as well as alpha(2) antiplasmin.’
Fibrinogen is a protein found in the blood that helps the body make blood clots to stop bleeding.
Alpha(2) antiplasmin is a molecule that helps prevent blood clots from breaking down.
Under normal circumstances, the body maintains a balance between clotting and anticoagulant materials to help the body reduce blood loss after injury.
This also prevents clots from growing too large and restricting oxygen flow.
Professor Pretorius said that large amounts of alpha(2) antiplasmin trapped in the blood mean that the body’s ability to break down blood clots is severely reduced.
What causes Covid has long baffled scientists since the phenomenon was observed.
But other recent studies have also shown that the body’s clotting system may be involved.
A study from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland showed that coagulation markers were elevated in people with long Covid months after their initial infection.
And Covid itself has been linked to clotting disorders during initial infection that can be fatal in some cases.
Data from the Office of National Statistics in August suggested that nearly 400,000 people in the UK have been suffering from Covid for more than a year.
Long Covid is an umbrella term that includes symptoms that last longer than a month and are poorly understood.
Professor Pretorius said more research is needed to confirm her findings, with a larger sample size.
She also recommended more research into what type of treatment is needed to support the clotting system of tall Covid patients.
Her findings have been published in the medical journal Cardiovascular Diabetology.