Scientists have shared a shocking image of a woman whose fingers turned black as a result of Covid-19.about:blank
In one of the most unusual and alarming symptoms of any patient in the pandemic, the elderly Italian lady was said to have “dry gangrene of the second, fourth, and fifth fingers of the right hand”, by a science journal.
It appears the disease ravaged her blood vessels and her ‘necrotic’ – dead – fingers were amputated.
The case appeared in the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, and told how the 86-year-old did not show any other clinical signs of Covid-19, about which scientists are still learning a lot.
Italian doctors described it as a “sever manifestation” of the coronavirus.
Early on in the global pandemic, scientists in China found that coronavirus patients with high blood glucose are more likely to die.
The study, by researchers at Wuhan University in China, found that Covid-19 increases glucose metabolism by fuelling the overproduction of immune cells – a phenomenon known as a “cytokine storm”.
The finding sheds fresh light on why diabetics are more vulnerable to the deadly pandemic – and why it may ravage blood cells, leading to the gruesome pictures shown above.
Co author Dr Shi Liu said at the time: “We believe that glucose metabolism contributes to various Covid-19 outcomes. Both influenza and Covid-19 can induce a cytokine storm.
“Covid-19 patients with diabetes have shown higher mortality.”
The Italian patient had presented with acute coronary syndrome in March – a sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart, and blood clots cut off the blood supply to her fingers.
When the immune system goes into overdrive in the ‘cykotine storm’, healthy tissue can be damaged, if blood vessels are damaged they can leak, blood pressure can drop and the sufferer has an increased chance of clots forming.
In July, a dad of two from Cardiff lost both his thumbs, his index finger and the tip of his middle finger due to a lack of blood circulation after he caught coronavirus and spent 61 days on a ventilator.
In Italy, the elderly woman was swabbed for Covid and it came back positive.
She had a lack of blood flowing into the heart and the drugs prevent platelets – or blood-clotting cells – from clumping together.
Doctors in Fermo, on the Adriatic coastline, 155 miles north of Rome, found she had no obvious coronavirus symptoms, such as a fever, cough or loss of taste.
But a month later, her fingers had turned black.
Doctors found she had low blood pressure in the common digital arteries which pump blood into the fingers through the hand.
Her amputated fingers showed signs of intravascular thrombosis – which is when blood clots develop in the arteries and veins and can block the heart.
Professor Graham Cooke, who works with the National Institute for Health Research, a research arm of the NHS, said: “It’s important to note Covid is a multi-system disease.
“I think one of the features that seems to separate it from other severe viral disease is this more hypercoagulable state that seems to be associated with later disease.”
Hypercoagulable is a state where a person’s blood clotting is abnormally high – often a result of cancer, blood disorders, medication, HIV, heart attacks.
Doctors are noticing a large number of Covid-19 patients with blood clotting issues.
This could mean the disease is vascular as well as respiratory.
Professor Roopen Arya, from King’s College London, told the BBC in May that as many as 30 per cent of coronavirus hospital patients had blood clots.
“I think it has become apparent that thrombosis is a major problem,” he told the BBC.