As cases first began to rise in the UK health professionals have seen increasing evidence to suggest that COVID-19 patients are at heightened risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots. Not only have coronavirus patients shown signs they are more likely to develop potentially fatal blood clots as a result of thrombosis, but experts also claim to have seen higher rates of heart attacks and strokes in COVID-19 patients as well as deep vein thrombosis.
Professor Beverley Hunt OBE, Medical Director at Thrombosis UK Chair of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee spoke to Express.co.uk about the worrying risk of such diseases, after noticing higher rates of coronavius patients developing thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes.
Professor Hunt has also been working at a major London hospital and has seen first-hand how patients in critical care can end up at risk as the illness causes their blood to become stickier.
“We’re seeing higher rates of heart attacks and strokes because the blood is so sticky,” she began.
“We know if people have these infections they have higher rates of heart attacks and strokes afterwards and part of it is due to coronavirus.”
Seeing these worrying developments in coronavirus patients is no rarity, as Professor Hunt describes seeing wards full of COVID-19 sufferers who also have developed blood thrombosis due to the inflammation of the lungs.
She added: “It became very obvious with lots of wards full of COVID patients with COVID that thrombosis is a problem.
“The other issue is that the in the lungs there’s a lot of inflammation, and we know that if you’ve got all that inflammation, there will be points where there’s loss of blood supply.
“So we’re seeing that as well.”
READ MORE: Research into COVID-19 patients with fatal blood clots ‘not a priority’
Prof Hunt revealed there are certain groups of patients who are more at risk of having deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli.
The thrombosis expert said pregnancy is “a risky time” as your blood becomes “sticky” during pregnancy, meaning pregnant women are more at risk of developing blood clots.
However, some medications can also make patients more at risk of developing thrombosis.
Prof Hunt explained: “If you have hormone replacement therapy or the combined oral contraceptive pill” your are more at risk.
She also said “Anyone going into hospital with any illness had have stickier blood than normal”
The risks are also high “after an operation” or if you are overweight.
“They’re all big risk factors,” she added.
“If you get cancer lots of things that can happen to you to make your blood more sticky.”
“Because they weren’t on the ground they didn’t quite know what was going on I think. That’s the only explanation for it.
“It’s been really frustrating because we have writing research protocols and we have wanted to do research but because the way the research community is at the moment if we want any research to go ahead it has to go through Public Health England it has to be seen by the chief medical officer and they have decided that research in thrombosis was a low priority.
“But it doesn’t feel like a low priority at the frontline… [The World Health organisation] is also aware that there is a problem as well but they’re not giving specific advice about how to manage it.”
Express.co.uk has contacted NHS England for a response.