LSU researchers find blood clots in the lungs of African American patients who died from COVID-19


Autopsies on African American COVID-19 victims by LSU researchers identify blood clots as a key factor in deaths. LSU Health New Orleans head of Pathology Research Dr. Richard Vander Heide says they performed 26 autopsies and examined the victims’ lungs.

“When we started to do a microscopic analysis of tissue, we noticed there were small vessels that had blood clots,” said Dr. Vander Heide.

The patients were both males and females between 40 and 70 years old. All were African American and many had a history of hypertension, obesity, and insulin-dependent type II diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Vander Heide says they conditions may have helped produce the blood clots.

“The key implications of our study include the discovery of a mechanism for severe pathology within the African American population, likely extendable to all persons with severe disease, and possibly a target for immediate therapeutic management,” said Dr. Vander Heide. “The results may also be applicable to a broader demographic experiencing severe COVID-19 disease. Management of these patients should include therapy to target those pathologic mechanisms.”

The autopsies were performed at University Medical Center in New Orleans. It is one of the few hospitals in the United States equipped with an autopsy suite that meets CDC standards for performing an autopsy of COVID-19 patients safely.