WATCH: SA doctor says Covid-19 is vascular disease

Published Jun 12, 2020


CAPE TOWN- A Stellenbosch based physician says that Covid-19 is not a lung disease, it is a vascular disease.

Dr Jaco Laubscher who specialises in vascular biology, says that the management of Covid-19 is important, which is why the virus needs to be examined and treated as a vascular problem and not a respiratory one.

Increasing reports from around the world show patients becoming severely hypoxic, which is a condition where the body becomes deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level.

Many Covid-19 patients with hypoxia have also shown to have normal lung function, however their blood was not adequately oxygenated, which led Laubscher to examine the blood.

There have also been reports of patients with thrombotic complications, where blood clots obstruct the flow of blood through the circulatory system.

Laubscher says if the novel coronavirus is found to be a vascular disease it may explain why the use of ventilators fails to save the lives of many patients.

How does Covid-19 affect the blood?

Laubscher says, “Covid 19 affects vulnerable endothelium which leads to hyper-coagulability and impaired fibrinolysis”.

Breaking this statement down, the virus directly affects the endothelium which is a single layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels. Usually when this layer of cells is damaged, platelets are sent over to repair it.

Abnormal blood coagulation has been found in Covid-19 patients. Coagulopathy is a condition in which the blood's ability to coagulate, or form clots is impaired.

Most at risk to coronavirus are the elderly, those with hypertension, diabetics, people who are obese and patients with ischemic heart disease- all of which have vulnerable endotheliums.

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