NYC doctor reacts to study showing most NY coronavirus patients had underlying issue

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Dr. Craig Spencer reacted Thursday on “America’s Newsroom” to a new study revealing that most of the people in New York City who were hospitalized due to coronavirus had one or more underlying health issues.

Health records from 5,700 patients hospitalized within the Northwell Health system -- which housed the most patients in the country throughout the pandemic -- showed that 94 percent of patients had more than one disease other than COVID-19, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Spencer, the director of Global Health and Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, said it's been known for weeks that people with underlying health issues like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are at a much greater risk for complications.

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He said the study reinforces how serious the virus could be if it spreads throughout the country since so many Americans suffer from these conditions. Spencer said there is no guarantee a vaccine will be ready any time soon.

Spencer said that there is also a concern for people with life-threatening issues that may be avoiding the emergency room or a doctor because they may be assuming that coronavirus patients are the focus or don't want to be exposed to the virus.

“We’re going to have a lot of people with these strokes, with heart attacks, with other emergencies that will either continue to have complications that worsen or, maybe in fact, die at home,” he said.

Meanwhile, COVID-19, the disease-causing the coronavirus pandemic, has largely been associated with symptoms such as fatigue, a persistent cough, fevers and, recently, lesions. However, it may also cause strokes in patients under 50.

In an interview with CNN, Mount Sinai Health System neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas Oxley said the virus is causing clots in arteries, resulting in "severe strokes."

"Our report shows a seven-fold increase in the incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks," Dr. Oxley added. "Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of COVID."

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It's possible the patients, who are in their 30s and 40s and have mild symptoms associated with the disease, are less likely to seek urgent medical care and call 911 because of the influx of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Oxley and colleagues tested five patients at the hospital, all with mild symptoms, and noted that they all tested positive for the virus, with two delaying in calling an ambulance.

Spencer, the first Ebola patient in New York City and the fourth in the country in 2014, said there needs to be more data showing how much blood clots are tied to coronavirus. He noted that coronavirus has caused “blood clotting.”

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Spencer also said that this has been a concern for the past couple of weeks.

“Really, this is a long-term complication and, potentially, a mortality concern for a lot of patients who aren’t coming [to the hospital]," he concluded.

Fox News' Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.