Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that older stroke patients who had a history of COVID-19 were more likely to develop dangerous blood clots in the veins.
The research was presented at the International Stroke Conference conducted by Xin Tong et al.
Blood clots that form in veins, a condition called venous thromboembolism or VTE, are a common complication after stroke.
Clots can form in a leg or elsewhere, then may break free and block blood supply to the lungs, causing often fatal pulmonary embolism.
Several studies suggest SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may increase the risk of VTE among people hospitalized with COVID-19.
In the study, the team used data to examine the association between VTE and COVID-19 among 235,567 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older.
All had been hospitalized with a stroke between April 2020 and November 2021. Among them, 7.8% had a history of COVID-19, which required hospitalization for slightly more than half.
VTE was most common among those with a history of COVID-19 hospitalization, at 4.4%. Among those with COVID-19 that had not required hospitalization, 3.1% had VTE.
Those without a history of COVID-19 were least likely to have VTE, at 2.6%.
That translated to a 64% higher risk of VTE among stroke patients with a history of COVID-19 hospitalization, and a 21% higher risk among those who’d had COVID-19 but didn’t need to be hospitalized.
These findings suggest that stroke patients who’ve had COVID-19 should be carefully monitored for potential VTE.
The possible reasons behind a link between COVID-19 and an increased risk of VTE are complex and not well understood.
Some underlying conditions of stroke patients can overlap with VTE risk factors, which include older age, prolonged immobility, obesity, and prior VTE or stroke. Some of those same factors overlap with risk of severe COVID-19.
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