Risk of deadly blood clots ‘remains elevated’ after Covid

Covid-19: Dr Hilary calls for return of masks as cases rise

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The data was published in the Circulation journal by a group of researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, Edinburgh, and Swansea who studied health records across the entire population of England and Wales between January and December 2020.

From this research they ascertained the risk of a fatal blood clot developing as a result of COVID-19 lasted for 49 weeks, almost a year.

Overall patients were 21 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the first week after becoming infected with COVID-19. This figure dropped to just under four times more likely after four weeks.

As a result, they say their research suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in an additional 10,500 cases of strokes, heart attacks, and deep vein thrombosis, increasing the burden on the NHS at a time when it was at its most stretched.

With regard to the long-term risk of blood clots, the likelihood of a potentially fatal clot in the arteries dropped to just under one-and-a-half times between weeks 26 and 49 and just under twice as a likely for clots in the veins.

This isn’t the first time COVID-19 has been associated with an increased risk of blood clots; this paper adds to growing body of research on the long-term health impacts of even a mild case of Covid

Previous studies have shown COVID-19 can increase the risk of heart failure, heart attack, or a stroke by over 50 percent regardless of all risk factors. However, while these studies make for unnerving reading, the authors say the risk of a fatal clot as a result of COVID-19 remains low.

Professor Jonathan Sterne of the University Bristol said in a statement: “We are reassured that the risk drops quite quickly – particularly for heart attacks and strokes – but the finding that it remains elevated for some time highlights the longer-term effects of COVID-19 that we are only beginning to understand.”.

Subsequently, while the risk is low, this does not mean that health officials and governments can relax. While case numbers are low and the illness caused by Covid can be relatively mild, this doesn’t mean the virus isn’t still a threat.

Furthermore, although the virus is mainly problematic for the old and the vulnerable, this doesn’t mean young people haven’t or won’t be affected by the virus too, as multiple studies reveal as much from the latest research in the United States.

Meanwhile, Professor Angela Wood from the University of Cambridge said: “We have shown that even people who were not hospitalised faced a higher risk of blood clots in the first wave.

“While the risk to individuals remains small, the effect on the public’s health could be substantial and strategies to prevent vascular events will be important as we continue through the pandemic.”

One study, recently made available in the Radiology journal by the Radiology Society of North America, has found that COVID-19 can cause lasting lung damage in children and teenagers.

As this data suggests, this isn’t necessarily the case. The children and teenagers who recovered from COVID-19 showed persistent lung damage after undergoing an MRI scan.

Senior study author Dr Ferdinand Knieling said: “We conceived this study when the evidence for long- or post-COVID cases in adults was growing. This was also when the first patients with unspecific symptoms were seen in our department, and parents started to ask about an association with a prior infection.”

Dr Knieling’s department used a new MRI scanner in order to safely assess the damage done by COVID-19 to the young people affected, looking at changes in lung structure and function in 54 participants.

Despite the small study cohort, long Covid in children is a genuine problem. Data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) published earlier this year found around a million children in the UK suffer from the condition.

However, as those who have fully recovered may have experienced changes to their cardiovascular system, the number of children impacted could be much larger.

Dr Knieling added: “Persistent symptoms after COVID still cause diagnostic odysseys, and this is especially true for young people. Our findings illustrate that caring for these patients is a multidisciplinary challenge.”

Overall, alongside the blood clot research, this study demonstrates how far-reaching the COVID-19 virus will be even after the pandemic in question has ended.

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