COVID-19-associated coagulopathy and antithrombotic agents-lessons after 1 year

Lancet Haematol. 2021 Jul;8(7):e524-e533. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3026(21)00105-8. Epub 2021 Apr 27.


COVID-19 is associated with a high incidence of thrombotic complications, which can be explained by the complex and unique interplay between coronaviruses and endothelial cells, the local and systemic inflammatory response, and the coagulation system. Empirically, an intensified dose of thrombosis prophylaxis is being used in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and several guidelines on this topic have been published, although the insufficiency of high quality and direct evidence has led to weak recommendations. In this Viewpoint we summarise the pathophysiology of COVID-19 coagulopathy in the context of patients who are ambulant, admitted to hospital, and critically ill or non-critically ill, and those post-discharge from hospital. We also review data from randomised controlled trials in the past year of antithrombotic therapy in patients who are critically ill. These data provide the first high-quality evidence on optimal use of antithrombotic therapy in patients with COVID-19. Pharmacological thromboprophylaxis is not routinely recommended for patients who are ambulant and post-discharge. A first ever trial in non-critically ill patients who were admitted to hospital has shown that a therapeutic dose of low-molecular-weight heparin might improve clinical outcomes in this population. In critically ill patients, this same treatment does not improve outcomes and prophylactic dose anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis is recommended. In the upcoming months we expect numerous data from the ongoing antithrombotic COVID-19 studies to guide clinicians at different stages of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Coagulation / physiology
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / drug therapy
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / epidemiology
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / physiopathology*
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Endothelial Cells / virology
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / therapeutic use*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Discharge / standards
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight