COVID-19 coagulopathy management
In a retrospective study9 of 449 patients with severe COVID-19 from Wuhan, China, by Tang et al., 99 patients mainly received low-weight molecular heparin (LMWH) for 7 days or longer. No difference in 28-day mortality was noted between heparin users and nonusers (30.3% vs. 29.7%; P = .910). A lower 28-day mortality rate was noted in heparin patients with sepsis-induced coagulopathy score of ≥4.0 (40.0% vs. 64.2%; P = .029) or a d-dimer level greater than sixfold of upper limit of normal, compared with nonusers of heparin.12
Another small study of seven COVID-19 patients with acroischemia in China demonstrated that administering LMWH was successful at decreasing the d-dimer and fibrinogen degradation product levels but noted no significant improvement in clinical symptoms.13
Recently, the International Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis and American Society of Hematology published recommendations and guidelines regarding the recognition and management of coagulopathy in COVID-19.11 Prophylactic anticoagulation therapy with LMWH was recommended in all hospitalized patients with COVID-19, provided there was an absence of any contraindications (active bleeding, platelet count less than 25 x 109/L and fibrinogen less than 0.5 g/dL). Anticoagulation with LMWH was associated with better prognosis in severe COVID-19 patients and in COVID-19 patients with markedly elevated d-dimer, as it also has anti-inflammatory effects.12 This anti-inflammatory property of heparin has been documented in previous studies but the underlying mechanism is unknown and more research is required.14,15
Despite coagulopathy being noticed with cases of COVID-19, bleeding has been a rare finding in COVID-19 infections. If bleeding is noted, recommendations were made to keep platelet levels greater than 50 x109/L, fibrinogen less than 2.0 g/L, and INR [international normalized ratio] greater than 1.5.11 Mechanical thromboprophylaxis should be used when pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis is contraindicated.16
COVID-19 patients with new diagnoses of venous thromboembolism (VTE) or atrial fibrillation should be prescribed therapeutic anticoagulation. Patients who are already on anticoagulation for VTE or atrial fibrillation should continue their therapy unless the platelet count is less than 30-50x109/L or if the fibrinogen is less than 1.0 g/L.16
Coagulopathies associated with COVID-19 infections have been documented in several studies around the world, and it has been shown to be fatal in some cases. Despite documentation, the mechanism behind this coagulopathy is not well understood. Because of the potentially lethal complications associated with coagulopathies, early recognition and anticoagulation is imperative to improve clinical outcomes. These results are very preliminary: More studies are required to understand the role of anticoagulation and its effect on the morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19–associated coagulopathy.
Dr. Yeruva is a board-certified hematologist/medical oncologist with WellSpan Health and clinical assistant professor of internal medicine, Penn State University, Hershey. Mr. Henderson is a third-year graduate-entry medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with interests in family medicine, dermatology, and tropical diseases. Dr. Al-Tawfiq is a consultant of internal medicine & infectious diseases, and the director of quality at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, an adjunct associate professor of infectious diseases, molecular medicine and clinical pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and adjunct associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. Dr. Tirupathi is the medical director of Keystone Infectious Diseases/HIV in Chambersburg, Pa., and currently chair of infection prevention at Wellspan Chambersburg and Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospitals. He also is the lead physician for antibiotic stewardship at these hospitals.
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