Can even mild Covid cause blood clots, cardiovascular issues?

Emerging evidence suggests that venous thromboembolism or blood clots — that begin in patients’ veins and spread to the heart, lungs, and other regions of the body — are more likely to be experienced by patients with mild Covid-19. The research, published in the British Medical Journal, found that patients with mild Covid, which was classified as those who were not hospitalised, were 2.7 times more likely to get blood clots, and were more than 10 times more likely to die than people who did not have the viral respiratory disease.

According to the study, patients hospitalised with Covid-19 were more at risk with them being 21 times more likely to experience heart failure, and 17 times more likely to suffer a stroke. For both moderate and severe cases, the risk of cardiovascular disease peaked 30 days after infection, noted the study from the Queen Mary University of London. Data from 20, 505 participants from the UK Biobank study who had recorded Covid-19 infection status, was part of the study. The authors included participants from the first two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic and were able to perform matched analysis on 17, 871 participants.

blood clot How is Covid-19 related to blood clots? (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

The analysis mentioned that patients hospitalised with the virus had a considerably elevated risk of cardiovascular illness in general, despite the fact that persons with moderate Covid had an increased risk of blood clots. The risk of cardiovascular disease was highest in the first 30 days after infection but persisted afterwards for moderate and severe patients, the study noted.

“Our findings highlight the increased cardiovascular risk of individuals with past infection, which are likely to be greater in countries with limited access to vaccination and thus greater population exposure to Covid-19. Furthermore, the long-term cardiovascular consequences reported in our study may be relevant in the context of future pandemics of similar viral infection,” the authors detailed in the study.

Why could it be happening?

Several variables have contributed to the increased number of heart attack patients during the past two years of the pandemic, said Dr Nikhil Choudhary, senior consultant interventional cardiologist, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital Jaipur. “Lack of activity, increased consumption of tobacco and alcohol, fewer doctor consultations, and self-medication, to mention a few are some of the prominent reasons,” he told this outlet.

Dr Choudhary went on to mention that Covid, which can cause inflammation in the body, can very well “induce widespread blood clots in tiny veins throughout the body, including the heart”. “People who already have a heart problem are more vulnerable to severe complications and fatalities. In cases of acute heart attacks, around three per cent of patients have a cardiac rupture (VSR- ventricular septum rupture). This is most commonly seen in circumstances of delayed diagnosis and treatment,” Dr Choudhary said.

However, Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, director and head, pulmonology, Fortis Hospitals, Faridabad, told that it is “still premature” to say that mild covid can cause blood clots. “What has been our experience so far is that those Covid patients who had significant fall in oxygen or hypoxia tend to have raised inflammatory markers and had the potency of having blood clots. However, for this too, we need more scientific data,” he said.

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