By Randolph Fillmore
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most alarming and confounding aspects of the complex SARS-CoV-2 virus has been that people who become seriously ill with COVID-19, including children, are at increased risk for blood clots. The clots can appear in blood vessels both large and small, often with serious (and sometimes fatal) results.
The increased risk of blood clots (also called “thromboembolism”) appears to be related, at least in part, to the high levels of inflammation that the virus causes. The massive inflammatory response to COVID-19 can raise clotting factors in the blood and can cause blockage of blood vessels; when this occurs in arteries (which carry blood that nourishes healthy tissues with critical nutrients and oxygen). Deprived of oxygen, the tissue becomes injured or dies. In pediatric patients, the condition of high inflammation can affect tissues throughout the body — particularly the heart — and is called “multisystem inflammatory syndrome” (MIS-C).
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Preventing COVID-19-related Blood Clots
Reducing the risk for blood clots is referred to in medical terms as “thromboprophylaxis,” which means using blood “thinners,” or anticoagulants (anti-clotting medications), to reduce the possibility of blood clots forming. Evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of using anticoagulants for thromboprophylaxis among pediatric patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has been limited—until recently, there have been no clinical trials performed that focused on this issue.
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