Covid 19 and Blood Clots

Many of our patients have asked me if they need to worry about blood clots should they or a family member contract Covid 19.  The short answer is:  not really.

While the Covid 19 infection does increase the chance of developing a blood clot in the veins of the legs or lungs, this seems to only occur in critically ill Covid 19 patients who are hospitalized in an ICU.  The chance of needing to be in an ICU from Covid 19 is still very low.  While the cause for the peculiar development of blood clots is not well understood,  doctors over the world have quickly agreed on a more proactive approach in preventing them.

First, unless you are admitted to a hospital for treatment of Covid 19, there is no additional therapy as an outpatient that you need to take to prevent blood clots and that includes NOT  adding a daily aspirin unless you already are taking aspirin for some other reason.  If admitted to a hospital, all patients are now put on a blood thinner medication that is given daily or twice daily depending on patient weight and kidney function.  If a patient requires ICU care, then a larger dose of this blood thinner is administered to prevent blood clots.  Finally, for the rare patient that actually needs help breathing with a ventilator, full dose blood thinners are given intravenously.

There is no doubt that critically ill Covid 19 patients have more blood clotting events than critically ill non-Covid 19 patients.  However, doctors have made adjustments to their management of Covid 19 patients to prevent these clots from forming.  And for the vast majority of Covid 19 illness, especially if managed at home, no blood clot preventative therapy is required.

It will be some time before we completely understand what this virus is doing to the body’s clotting system, but for now doctors are doing a much better job preventing these blood clots.