Coronavirus updates: Blood clots clogged lungs of black COVID-19 victims, study says

Autopsies were conducted on 10 African American patients who died from COVID-19.

A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 355,000 people worldwide.

Over 5.6 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with nearly 1.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 100,442 deaths.

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Today’s biggest developments:

  • Blood clots clogged lungs of back coronavirus victims, study finds
  • Here’s how the news developed Tuesday. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

    5:06 a.m.: Blood clots clogged lungs of African American coronavirus victims, study finds

    Autopsies on 10 African American patients who died from COVID-19 show their lungs were filled with blood clots, according to a new study.

    The autopsies were performed at University Medical Center in New Orleans by a team of pathologists from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans. It’s believed to be the first autopsy series on African Americans whose cause of death was attributed to COVID-19, according to the study, which was published Wednesday in monthly scientific journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

    “We found that the small vessels and capillaries in the lungs were obstructed by blood clots and associated hemorrhage that significantly contributed to decompensation and death in these patients,” Dr. Richard Vander Heide, head of pathology research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, said in a statement. “We also found elevated levels of D-dimers — fragments of proteins involved in breaking down blood clots. What we did not see was myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, that early reports suggested significantly contributes to death from COVID-19.”

    The small vessel clotting is a new finding that appears to be specific to COVID-19, according to the study.

    The 10 deceased patients were black men and women between the ages of 40 and 70, many of whom had a history of hypertension, obesity, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. In all cases, the patients had experienced sudden respiratory decompensation or collapse at home approximately three to seven days after developing a mild cough and fever.

    The new findings come after some U.S. states released mortality data based on race and ethnicity that show the novel coronavirus kills black Americans at a disproportionately high rate.

    “Our study presents a large series of autopsies within a specific demographic experiencing the highest rate of adverse outcomes within the United States,” said Dr. Sharon Fox, another co-author of the study.

    What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
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