Recent COVID-19 Raises Odds for Clots After Surgery by 90%

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- COVID-19 infection significantly increases the risk of dangerous blood clots after surgery, a new study finds.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a potential complication of surgery in which blood clots form in the veins. It is a leading preventable cause of death in hospital patients.

This study found that VTEs were 50% more likely after surgery in patients with a current COVID infection and 90% more likely in those with recent infection.

"Surgical patients have risk factors for VTE, including immobility, surgical wounds and systematic inflammation -- and the addition of SARS-CoV-2 infection may further increase this risk," said study co-author Dr. Elizabeth Li, a general surgery registrar at University Hospital Birmingham in England.

The study included more than 128,000 patients at 1,630 hospitals in 115 countries.

The post-surgery VTE rate was 2.2% in patients with current COVID infection; 1.6% in patients who had COVID one to six weeks before surgery, and 1% in patients who had COVID seven weeks or more before surgery.

Overall, VTE alone was linked to more than five times the risk of death within a month of surgery, the study found. In patients with COVID, the death rate was more than five times higher among those with VTE (nearly 41%) than those without it (7.4%).

"Routine postoperative care of surgical patients should include interventions to reduce VTE risk in general, and further research is needed to define the best protocols for VTE prevention and treatment in this setting," Li and her colleagues said in a university news release.

The findings were published Aug. 24 in the journal Anaesthesia.

The study was produced by an international collaborative of more than 15,000 surgeons, who are collecting data on the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more on VTE.

SOURCE: University of Birmingham, news release, Aug. 24, 2021

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