Blood Clots and Coronavirus Disease

Several COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) develop blood clots. It includes small vessels, clots in the lungs, deep vein thrombosis in the legs, and clots that cause stroke which is in cerebral arteries. Even though, these patients are put on blood thinner drugs to prevent clots as soon as they come to the ICU.

Since the start of the pandemic, there are lots of questions about COVID-19 and blood clots. Here are some questions:

1. Why does blood clot happen in COVID-19 patients?

The virus causes a local inflammatory response that usually starts in the lungs. It progresses to what we call a cytokine storm. The response of the body to the virus causes all of these complications. Both the cytokine and inflammation in your body will activate in multiple steps of the blood clotting system. It is like a domino effect which results in high rates of things like pulmonary embolism, stroke, and heart attack. For patients with mild cases that are managing their condition at home have a lesser risk of blood clots.

2. Are there other conditions that make the risk of blood clots higher in the setting of COVID-19?

There is data that shows several conditions are risk factors for COVID-related thrombotic complications. These conditions may include obesity, diabetes, and current tobacco use.

3. Must all people take blood thinners in advance to make sure they don’t experience blood clots when they get COVID-19?

You should not take blood thinners. Anticoagulation therapies can be life-saving but just as the same with other medications, they also pose risks. Blood thinners are given to prevent and treat blood clots on people who have risk factors for clotting. Never start or stop taking any prescription without consulting your doctor.

4. If someone is already taking a blood thinner, what should they do if they get sick with COVID-19?

If they are taking a blood thinner and get sick with COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations and remedies you can use. They are your best resource at these times and you need to be in close contact with them and make sure you are getting the care you need.

5. What to do if you know someone who might have a blood clot and don’t want to go to the hospital?

Medical offices, clinics, and hospitals routinely take precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease. During this time of the pandemic, the prevention measures have increased significantly and are being strongly protected. It is highly recommended for people to seek out medical care they need especially if it involves something life-threatening or dangerous like a blood clot. You can talk with your doctor or healthcare provider in advance to address your concerns. However, it is still important to maintain good health.

6. If someone tested positive for COVID-19 and suffered a blood clot, what should they do?

It is important to continue working with your medical team as you recover from a blood clot and COVID-19. Take all your medications as prescribed and keep all your follow-up medical appointments. Call your doctor if you have any symptoms of additional clots.