POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Lakeland-based medical facilities are teaming up to learn how to prevent COVID-19 patients from suffering from blood clots.

Lakeland Regional Health and the Watson Clinic are participating in a nationwide, 30-partner trial sponsored by the TIMI Study Group, a collective of researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Studies have shown COVID-19 can cause blood clots in patients.

“I have seen patients who almost lost their limbs, their legs and their hands,” said Dr. Thane Htun, a pulmonologist at Lakeland Regional Health. “Some people came in with clots in their lungs.”

The study will use combinations of blood-thinning anticoagulant medications to determine the appropriate dose.

“A lot of people actually die from these clots in the lungs or in the heart or in the brain, so the trial is trying to answer whether we should give a low dose of blood thinners or a high dose of thinners or a combination,” said Dr. Naem Shahrour, a pulmonologist at Watson Clinic.

The trial began this week at the medical facilities.

“Patients who have difficulty breathing and oxygen saturation level is very, very low, we admit them to the ICU, intensive care unit, and those patients will be offered to participate in the study,” said Dr. Htun.

“These medications are not without side effects. They could cause major bleeding so we need, also, to see the safety of these medications that we’re using,” Dr. Shahrour added.

The study will also focus on predicting which coronavirus patients will be vulnerable to blood clots and whether pre-existing conditions play a role, the doctors said. Data will be collected and analyzed at the Watson Clinic research center.

The trial is expected to take six months to a year and will include up to 700 patients nationwide.

In late May, Lakeland Regional Health participated in a convalescent plasma trial.