The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is synonymous with respiratory failure; however, cardiologists now believe that COVID-19 is also putting patients at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems. Specifically, the disease is being linked to the formation of blood clots in the body. Many COVID-19-positive patients are showing elevated levels of D-dimer, which might indicate a clotting issue. The number of blood clotting issues that nurses and doctors are encountering with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 is unprecedented. This is making the already challenging patient care even more complicated, when inserted intravenous lines continually clot.
A study out of Wuhan, China, who looked at 81 patients with severe cases of COVID-19, found that 25% of those patients showed venous thromboembolism, a condition in which blood clots occur in the deep veins typically in the extremities. The clots can travel through the circulatory system and lodge in the lungs etc. In a study from the Netherlands, that looked at 184 intensive care patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, had the following conclusions:
“The 31% incidence of thrombotic complications in ICU patients with COVID-19 infections is remarkably high. Our findings reinforce the recommendation to strictly apply pharmacological thrombosis prophylaxis in all COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU, and are strongly suggestive of increasing the prophylaxis towards high-prophylactic doses, even in the absence of randomized evidence.”
To that effect, some doctors are administering blood thinners to patients who are admitted with COVID-19 to prevent blood clots. Giving relatively low doses of blood thinners to patients may help prevent blood clotting, but for some patients, the low dosage is not sufficient. Giving larger doses of blood thinners is effective; however, it is also potentially dangerous in a bleeding scenario, leading to excessive blood loss.
Nonetheless, there is still much unknown about the connection between COVID-19, and issues with abnormal blood clotting, and the treatment of COVID-19 patients with blood thinners. Doctors at Harvard have proposed that an extensive study on the effects of blood thinners on COVID-19 patients be conducted. When treating issues with blood clotting, it is vital first to understand what is causing this unprecedented blood clotting issue.