Thrombosis in pre- and post-vaccination phase of COVID-19

Eur Heart J Suppl. 2021 Oct 8;23(Suppl E):E184-E188. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/suab118. eCollection 2021 Oct.


Acute infections may be complicated by thrombosis occurring in the venous and arterial circulation. This may be observed in patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and also in patients with coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), that is a pandemic characterized by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) needing mechanical ventilation and intensive care unit treatment. However, the type and rate of thrombosis can vary according to the cause of pneumonia as is more frequently complicated by arterial thrombosis in CAP, while an equal incidence of venous and arterial thrombosis occurs in SARS-CoV-2. The mechanisms of disease are overall platelet-related in CAP while activation of both platelets and clotting system is implicated in the pathogenesis of thrombosis in SARS-CoV-2; this finding could imply a different therapeutic approach of the two settings. Thrombosis may also occur in subjects vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 even if its incidence is not so high (1/100 000); this rare effect occurs more prevalently in young women, is independent from known risk factors of thrombosis, is caused by antibodies against platelet PF4 and is counteracted by treatment with immunoglobulin and glucocorticoids.

Keywords: COVID-19; Community-acquired pneumonia; Platelets; Thrombosis; Vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia.