Health Tips Tuesday: blood clots risks after battling COVID-19

A new study of 48 million adults has found that those who have contracted COVID-19 had an increased risk of blood clots for nearly a year.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 9:16 AM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A new American Heart Association study of 48 million adults has found that those who have contracted COVID-19 had an increased risk of blood clots for nearly a year.

Dr. Benjamin Freda, chief of division of hospital medicine at Baystate Health, spoke to Western Mass News about these findings.

What was the significance of the study? What were the big takeaways?

Freda: “Yeah, this was a very interesting study and it took place early in the pandemic, mostly in the first months. It was a lot of folks they looked at in Great Britain and Wales and they were able to see that there was a higher percentage risk of developing blood clots in patients that had developed COVID. That was pretty much the big takeway for the study.”

If you had COVID-19 within the last year or so, should you be concerned about the findings of the study and is there a way to prevent these blood clots from happening?

Freda: “...It’s a little bit more complicated than just looking at the numbers of increased risk. The increased risk is a percentage that is interesting to see, but the absolute numbers are very, very low. We’re talking about an incidents of blood clots in the legs or the heart or the brain as probably being less than one percent overall, so not sure any of this information actionable in changing the way we treat these conditions, but what we do know is COVID does cause inflamation in blood vessels, it causes damage to the lining of the blood vessels, and the sicker you are with COVID with symptoms of shortness of breath and low oxygen, the higher your chances are of clots in your organs. However, if you are asymptomatic with COVID and don’t have any of that low oxygen, the numbers are quite low and none of the studies that have looked at this with patients moving forward, and seeing whether treatment impacted that, have shown any benefit of changing any therapies, so right now, it’s interesting to see, but it doesn’t look actionable for asymptomatic patients with COVID.”

What if you have a history heart disease? How does that factor in to getting blood clots if you’ve had COVID-19 before?

Freda: “...So that would be the one type of population where this type of data would be potentially beneficial, so there may be a long-term risk associated with having had even asymptomatic COVID, especially if you’re older or have other risk factors in cardiovascular disease, like smoking, hypertension, a history of prior blood clots. Those types of patients, while the overall numbers are low, should speak with there providers, whether they have already a cardiologist or primary care provider about steps to decrease their risk overall.”