COVID-19 is associated with a high incidence of venous thromboembolism, blood clots in the venous circulation, according to a study conducted by researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), UK. In a series of 274 consecutive cases of COVID-19 admitted to hospital, a significant percentage (7.7%) were diagnosed with venous thromboembolism. The most common type of venous thromboembolism, seen in 76.2% of these cases, was pulmonary embolism, a blood clot on the lungs. The research team found that the D-dimer blood test was useful to identify those patients at highest risk of venous thromboembolism when admitted to hospital.
Lead author, Dr Chi Eziefula, Senior Lecturer in Infection at BSMS, said: "Identifying which patients have a risk of, and clinical evidence of, a venous thromboembolism in COVID-19 is highly important for two reasons. Firstly, because venous thromboembolism is linked to a risk of death and secondly because it is treatable with anticoagulant medications."
This study signals the importance of further research to explore the pathological mechanisms specific to COVID-19. It also highlights the urgent need for clinical trials to evaluate the role of anticoagulation treatment for the prevention of deaths and morbidity from COVID-19 infection."
Dr Tim Chevassut, Reader in Haematology at BSMS
Stoneham, S.M., et al. (2020) Thrombotic risk in COVID-19: a case series and case–control study. Clinical Medicine Journal. doi.org/10.7861/clinmed.2020-0228.