How Luke Letlow’s COVID-19 case seemingly led to a coronary heart assault and his loss of life

Louisiana Republican Rep.-elect Luke Letlow died final week of COVID-19 problems associated to a blood clot and coronary heart assault, in keeping with the chancellor of the hospital the place Letlow had been handled.

Letlow, 41, skilled the heart attack final week following a medical process at LSU Health Shreveport to take away a blood clot attributable to the virus.

“Congressman-elect Luke Letlow ultimately died from complications of COVID-19. His immediate death due to a heart attack is likely related to thromboembolic phenomena caused by COVID-19,” Dr. G. E. Ghali, chancellor of Shreveport, informed Fox News in an announcement.

Thromboembolism is the formation of a blood clot that may journey by veins to different elements of the physique, probably plugging vessels throughout the limbs, lungs, and even the mind, which may trigger coronary heart assaults or strokes. 


“COVID-19 thickens blood, and that is a risk for heart attacks,” Dr. Adrian Messerli, director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at University of Kentucky Health Care, informed Fox News. “The clotting disorder related to COVID is something we’re very familiar with.”

Luke Letlow, chief of staff to exiting U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, speaks after signing up to run for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District in Baton Rouge, La.  (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

Luke Letlow, chief of workers to exiting U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, speaks after signing as much as run for Louisiana’s fifth Congressional District in Baton Rouge, La.  (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

If there’s a compromise to the lungs and sufferers have bother respiratory in consequence, docs could attempt to “extract some of the blood clot from the lung,” Messerli mentioned, which can be a cause Letlow underwent a process, although it’s unknown precisely what process docs carried out on the late congressman-elect. Shreveport didn’t share additional particulars.

Dr. Tom Maddox, a training heart specialist and professor of cardiology on the Washington University School of Medicine, mentioned that “in extreme cases,” docs can do “clot removal if it’s creating life-threatening blockage of a particular organ” such because the lungs or a limb.


Both cardiologists, who will not be instantly conversant in Letlow’s loss of life however are specialists within the subject and who’ve studied how COVID-19 can affect the center, mentioned clotting might be fairly widespread in COVID-19 sufferers as a result of the illness causes irritation, which thickens the blood.

COVID-19 “generates a lot of inflammatory proteins and substances in the blood,” Maddox mentioned. The major job of the blood is to activate white blood cells to battle off an an infection, so when irritation happens on account of COVID-19, “it can increase the…relative thickness of the blood,” which can then end in blood clot formation and different points.

Many COVID-19 sufferers are handled with prophylactic doses of blood thinners, which Maddox mentioned continues to be “an active area of investigation.”

Blood clot (Credit: iStock)

Blood clot (Credit: iStock)

Because blood clots that result in coronary heart assaults are uncommon for younger individuals who seem to don’t have any underlying medical situations, the explanation Letlow suffered a coronary heart assault is a direct results of “COVID-19 infection,” Messerli mentioned.

Maddox defined that the process of mechanically eradicating a blood clot from a COVID-19 affected person is “far less than 1%,” and relying on sufferers’ underlying well being situations, Letlow’s private threat of dying on account of experiencing a coronary heart assault “even in a procedure” and in “the setting of a big infection like COVID would also be less than 1%.”


“It sounds like he was just very unlucky in experiencing all that in the course of his illness,” the professor mentioned. He added later that “it’s rare, obviously, for somebody like [Letlow] to die, but it happens, and that’s why we’re just so maniacal about wearing masks, distancing — all the stuff we always beat the drum on.”

Messerli suspected that Letlow seemingly suffered a big coronary heart assault and docs had been unable to resuscitate him.

“There are obviously smaller heart attacks, and then there are larger heart attacks, and that has to do with what part of the heart artery anatomy the heart attack occurs within,” he mentioned. “So, if you have a very severe heart attack that accounts for multiple arteries…the mortality rate for something like that is much higher than a more minor heart attack.”

Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali told the Monroe News-Star that Letlow had no underlying situations.

“It’s devastating to our entire team,” Ghali informed the outlet, including that Letlow had no underlying situations. “It was just COVID.”

Maddox questioned whether or not the stress of Letlow’s COVID-19 an infection on high of “any medical procedure” he could have undergone “together resulted in a heart attack.”

Both docs expressed sympathy for Letlow’s household and for the medical suppliers who handled his sickness.


“It’s a most horrific trauma for the families involved…but it’s also very traumatic for the care providers because these are not folks we’re accustomed to having pass away,” Messerli mentioned. “So, to take care of a young man like this that’s about to embark on a congressional career and having passed away because of this disease is tremendously emotionally traumatic.”

Maddox mentioned there may be nonetheless a lot that specialists have no idea in regards to the new virus that has taken greater than 350,000 lives within the U.S. alone.

“Why it sometimes just rages like wildfire in young folks we don’t know yet,” he mentioned. “There has been some speculation that some people may be predisposed. When they get an infection, their immune system really kind of goes crazy and almost overshoots what is needed to fight the infection.”

“Why that would be, there’s not a strong theory yet. We don’t understand that very well, and maybe it’s somebody’s genetic predisposition or other things,” he continued. “…There’s not a reliable way to know who would potentially have that response versus who wouldn’t, which is why the best strategy right now is to say everybody needs to take as much precaution as possible.”

Eight out of each 10 COVID-19 deaths within the United States have been in adults ages 65 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Adults between the ages of 40 and 49 are 3 times extra more likely to be hospitalized and 10 instances extra more likely to die from the virus than a comparability group of adults between the ages of 18 and 29.

One July study revealed in MedRxiv discovered that the an infection fatality price (IFR) elevated from 0.01% amongst 25-year-old adults to 0.4% at age 55, 1.4% at age 65, 4.6% at age 75 and 15% at age 85. Certain underlying medical conditions, nonetheless, can worsen COVID-19 instances.

It stays unclear why some younger, wholesome people expertise extreme signs and, occassionally, loss of life. Experts have suggested {that a} wholesome particular person’s genetic make-up could play into how particular person our bodies reply to the virus.

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