Introduction: COVID-19 may predispose to both venous and arterial thromboembolism due to excessive inflammation, hypoxia, immobilisation and diffuse intravascular coagulation. Reports on the incidence of thrombotic complications are however not available.
Methods: We evaluated the incidence of the composite outcome of symptomatic acute pulmonary embolism (PE), deep-vein thrombosis, ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction or systemic arterial embolism in all COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU of 2 Dutch university hospitals and 1 Dutch teaching hospital.
Results: We studied 184 ICU patients with proven COVID-19 pneumonia of whom 23 died (13%), 22 were discharged alive (12%) and 139 (76%) were still on the ICU on April 5th 2020. All patients received at least standard doses thromboprophylaxis. The cumulative incidence of the composite outcome was 31% (95%CI 20-41), of which CTPA and/or ultrasonography confirmed VTE in 27% (95%CI 17-37%) and arterial thrombotic events in 3.7% (95%CI 0-8.2%). PE was the most frequent thrombotic complication (n = 25, 81%). Age (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.05/per year, 95%CI 1.004-1.01) and coagulopathy, defined as spontaneous prolongation of the prothrombin time > 3 s or activated partial thromboplastin time > 5 s (aHR 4.1, 95%CI 1.9-9.1), were independent predictors of thrombotic complications.
Conclusion: The 31% incidence of thrombotic complications in ICU patients with COVID-19 infections is remarkably high. Our findings reinforce the recommendation to strictly apply pharmacological thrombosis prophylaxis in all COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU, and are strongly suggestive of increasing the prophylaxis towards high-prophylactic doses, even in the absence of randomized evidence.
Keywords: COVID-19; Deep vein thrombosis; Pulmonary embolism; Stroke; Thromboprophylaxis.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.