Researchers at Mount Sinai in New York and in the Netherlands have noticed young patients testing positive for COVID-19 have a significant increase in strokes, heart attacks, and pulmonary embolisms. Often these patients have no symptoms of COVID-19, or at most, very mild symptoms.
What is happening? Is there a link between COVID-19 and inflammation?
It appears that the virus causes an increase in inflammation in both the arteries and veins, as well as in our lungs, heart, and brain. The walls of our vessels have a protein called ACE2 to which the virus binds to and causes inflammation. Certain populations have more of this protein and thus likely to have a higher risk of blood clotting. This is because increased inflammation will coagulate blood, and this is true of the heart, lung, brain, etc. Low oxygen levels, being idle, and other symptoms of COVID also contribute to blood clotting.
Is there a proactive, preventative approach that young and healthy patients may take?
In theory, getting at least two to four thousand milligrams of omega-three fatty acids per day, as well as 100 mg of CoQ10, 200 mg of turmeric, 2000 mg vitamin C, and having a diet of low carb, no sugar will help with inflammation and blood clotting. Keeping ourselves well hydrated is also critical. Measuring and maintaining proper potassium levels in our blood may also prevent strokes and heart attacks as potassium binds ACE2 receptors, which would prevent COVID from adhering to them.
There may also be factors inherent in the virus itself, which promotes clotting. The virus is thought to independently affect our clotting proteins such as thrombin, prothrombin fibrinogen, etc. It is important to check any COVID positive patients for fibrinogen levels and for other clotting proteins. In acute settings, patients are given anticoagulants or blood thinners to stop the formation of clots or medicines to dissolve the clots like streptokinase.
Complicating these issues is the fact that patients are left immobile in the hospital setting, and stagnation will also contribute to blood clotting. Even for the mild to moderately ill patients in hospital settings, there is clearly not enough therapy or movement encouraged. As importantly, hydration is essential, which tends to also be remiss in hospitals. Careful monitoring of electrolytes for osmolarity or hydration, as well as urinary output, will determine a patient’s fluid status.
A careful proactive approach, of course, is what I encourage, with the aforementioned nutrients, low carb lifestyle, solid sleep, proper hydration, and exercise.