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Death of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow highlights deadly effects of COVID

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BATON ROUGE - For many people with coronavirus, the symptoms can be mild to moderate and gone in a few days. But for a startling amount of critically ill patients, there is a risk for heart attacks, strokes, and pulmonary embolisms.

“Venous thromboembolism in critically ill COVID [patients] probably impacts five to 15 percent of the patients. So it’s real,” Dr. Christopher Thomas with Our Lady of the Lake said.

These silent killers can go undetected in a person until it’s too late.
Doctors say congressman-elect Luke Letlow, an otherwise healthy 41-year-old, developed a COVID-related blood clot that had to be removed. He later died from a heart attack.

“Clot is a possibility in all COVID patients, independent of age. The severity of illness, meaning how sick you are, increases the risk,” Thomas said.

However, there’s also a risk for those who weren’t hospitalized. Just last week, 42-year-old Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Reese died from a blood clot in his brain. He had contracted COVID early in December and was feeling fine, even able to go on a run just days before his death.

Doctor Thomas says it’s not yet known how long the potential for a clot lasts, but that they can infect anyone, even perfectly healthy individuals.

“The average person who says ’I am young and the general part of COVID doesn’t apply to me’ has to understand that when you get the virus, there’s risk. The risk can be pulmonary. The risk can be blood clots, other organs. Those are the two we become the most concerned about.”

Thomas says it’s important to stay mobile if you are at home with COVID to lessen your risk for clots.

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