40 Percent of Coronavirus Patients With This Symptom Don't Survive

This one factor could mean the difference between life and death if you have coronavirus.

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Coronavirus has had a staggering death toll, with nearly 140,000 fatalities in the United States alone, the CDC reports. While many coronavirus symptoms are mild, ranging from a cough to gastrointestinal troubles, there's one symptom that could significantly increase your risk of dying from the virus: blood clots in your legs. A new study published in the journal Radiology examines the link between blood clots and coronavirus mortality rates. The researchers found that "arterial thrombosis associated with COVID-19 infection was characterized by dire outcomes, namely strikingly increased rates of amputation and death," lead author Inessa A. Goldman, MD, a radiologist at New York City's Montefiore Medical Center, said in a statement.

Goldman and her team looked at 16 coronavirus patients with a mean age of 70 and determined that the death rate increased 38 percent among those who had blood clots in their legs. Coronavirus patients with blood clots in their legs also had a 25 percent increased risk of amputation. In a control group of COVID-negative patients whose mean age was 71, 69 percent had at least one blood clot in their leg. But only 3 percent of subjects either underwent amputation or died.

The study also found that coronavirus patients had larger blood clots in their legs than members of the control group, and the clots were higher up in their legs as well.

older white woman in hospital with lung blood clots in x-ray
Shutterstock/Mongkolchon Akesin

Unfortunately, blood clots throughout the body are a surprisingly common issue among those diagnosed with coronavirus. "Many COVID-19 patients in the ICU are developing blood clots, including clots in small vessels, deep vein thromboses in the legs, clots in the lungs, and stroke-causing clots in cerebral arteries," Jeffrey Laurence, MD, a hematology and oncology specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in a recent interview. According to his research, Laurence added that "the virus itself may be directly setting off an immune cascade that results in clotting."

For example, according to a July study published in Clinical Medicine Journal, among a group of 274 confirmed or probable coronavirus patients, nearly 8 percent had venous thromboembolisms—a form of blood clot that originates deep within a vein.

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Among coronavirus patients with blood clots in their legs, however, having additional coronavirus symptoms increased their likelihood of death, according to the Radiology study. Specifically, patients with a cough or other respiratory symptoms, fever, low blood oxygen, and changes in their cognitive functioning were more likely to die as a result. And if you're wondering which other conditions put you at risk, If You Have One of These, You're 12 Times More Likely to Die From Coronavirus.

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