Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia in COVID-19

J Investig Med High Impact Case Rep. 2020 Jan-Dec:8:2324709620944091. doi: 10.1177/2324709620944091.


COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-2019) infection is a highly prothrombotic state, resulting from a dysregulation of the coagulation cascade. Therefore, thromboprophylaxis is strongly recommended in these patients, with some experts even advocating for therapeutic dosing to prevent thromboembolic events. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a well-known complication of heparin therapy. In this article, we report a case of HIT in a patient with COVID-19. A 63-year-old male presented with 1 week of dry cough and diarrhea. He had a positive nasopharyngeal COVID-19 reverse-transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. On admission, the platelet count and liver function tests were within normal limits. During his hospitalization, he developed a right femoral deep venous thrombosis and was started on therapeutic anticoagulation. Due to worsening respiratory failure, he was intubated and mechanically ventilated. Between days 11 and 12 of hospitalization, platelet count dropped from 304 000 to 96 000 cells/µL. He had a high pretest probability for HIT with a 4T score of 6 and a positive anti-PF4/heparin antibody. Heparin drip was discontinued and was switched to argatroban. The serotonin release assay eventually returned positive, which confirmed the diagnosis of HIT. We also discuss potential overdiagnosis of HIT in COVID-19 through 4 cases with false-positive HIT antibodies.

Keywords: COVID-19; enoxaparin; heparin; heparin-induced thrombocytopenia; thrombocytopenia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Heparin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced*
  • Venous Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin