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Covid and Blood Clots

EverythingHealth is back on Covid this week because...Surprise...the pandemic is NOT over. In fact Variant BA.5 is raging and you readers probably know someone who is infected right now. Most cases are not being reported because people are not going to the hospital. That's a good thing, (thanks to the vaccine) but getting accurate numbers for public health tracking is sorely lacking.

Most people who have had Covid ,or fear they will contract it, are worried about long term aftermath and what to expect from "Long-Covid". Scientists are doing studies and gathering information now. A very complex study was reported in Circulation that looked at the incidence of people who had had Covid and the incidence of thromboembolic disease. Thromboembolic disorders include deep vein clots, major artery blood clots, strokes and myocardial infarctions. The researchers in Wales and UK compared people who had not had Covid with those that did. A total of 48 million unvaccinated adults were included in the analysis. (Note that countries with universal healthcare can do these large population studies because everyone has healthcare and the government is interested in keeping them healthy).

They found that in the first week after Covid-19 diagnosis, people were 21 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Blood cots in the veins were 33 times more likely in the first week after diagnosis. Over time, the risk dropped, but by week 26-49 people with Covid were still 1.3X more likely for artery clots and 1.8X more for vein clots, evens if they were not hospitalized with severe infection. This data was collected during the first wave of infection during 2020. Further studies published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and other studies confirm this data.

I've had two patients in the last few months with pulmonary emboli for no known reason. Could it have been undetected Covid? We will never know but I am suspicious.

What can you do to protect yourself? First, of course, get boosted with the vaccine. The antibodies help reduce inflammation and cytokines that cause severe symptoms and blood abnormalities. Keep moving. Sedentary people are at risk for blood clots. If you travel, make sure you are moving your legs and walking up the aisle of the airplane frequently. Long travel is a special risk. I recommend a baby aspirin (81mg) daily for several months following Covid. No, the studies have not been done but aspirin affects clotting in the blood and it just makes sense to me. Ask your doctor if aspirin is safe for you.

Before you panic, remember that the risk of blood clots remains low overall. This is important for me to remember since I just got over "The Rona". All is well.


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