A link has been found between COVID-19 and life-threatening blood clots in the arteries of the legs, researchers have said.

A team from New York say that those with coronavirus who have symptoms of blood supply issues to their lower limbs, tend to have larger clots. This is then more likely to lead to amputation of even death, when compared to uninfected people with the same condition.

Although researchers already knew about COVID-19’s association with blood clots in the pulmonary arteries, not much has been documented about the virus being linked to blood clots in the arteries that impact the flow.

The finding was discovered during the first COVID-19 peak where New York radiologists based at the Montefiore Medical Center noticed they were seeing more people with coronavirus and also had blood clots on their lower limbs.

This prompted them to look closer at the association.

Study lead author Dr Inessa A. Goldman, a radiologist at Montefiore and assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said: “We found that arterial thrombosis associated with COVID-19 infection was characterized by dire outcomes, namely strikingly increased rates of amputation and death, which in our series were 25% and 38%, respectively.

“For comparison, the rate of both amputation and death was only 3% among controls. It is unclear whether the patients’ concurrent COVID-19-related pneumonia, the virulence of the COVID-19-related clotting disorder or delayed initial arrival to the hospital contributed to these outcomes.”

Dr Goldman has advised that as COVID-19 rates continue to increase that clinicians should be mindful of the association between COVID-19 and lower extremity arterial thrombosis.

She said: “Awareness of lower extremity arterial thrombosis as a possible complication of COVID-19 infection is important for all providers who take care of these patients, because early diagnosis is usually crucial for limb preservation in lower extremity ischemia.”

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