Can blood thinners help reduce symptoms of long Covid?

LONDON: Researchers in the UK are studying a potential link between blood clots and long-term symptoms after Covid infection, and whether blood-thinning treatment can help reduce long-term Covid conditions, according to media reports.

Long Covid is defined as having new or persistent symptoms four weeks or more after the onset of illness. Symptoms, which include fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of concentration and joint pain, can last up to several months or even more than a year.

Previous studies have pointed out that a Covid infection increases the risk of blood clots. Those infected have a greater risk of related illnesses, including strokes, heart attacks and deep vein thrombosis, the Guardian reported.

Professor Ami Banerjee of University College London is leading a study called Stimulate-ICP, where 4,500 people with long-term Covid will be divided into four groups in which participants are given usual care, antihistamines, an anti -inflammatory or anti-coagulant medication for three months.

“It will allow us to say whether it improves fatigue and other outcomes for people with long-term Covid,” Banerjee said.

A study by researchers at the University of Cambridge, called Heal-Covid, involves people hospitalized with Covid and aims to identify treatments that can help prevent or reduce persistent symptoms, according to the report.

“Heal-Covid is not a study dealing with people with long-term Covid, we aim to prevent it from coming to that,” lead researcher Professor Charlotte Summers from Cambridge said.

The team recruited 1,118 participants, with one arm of the trial involving participants receiving blood thinners.

“The trial included blood thinners because it was thought there was an increased number of large blood clots occurring in the post-hospital phase of the disease rather than microclots,” Summers said.

Additionally, a team from the University of Leicester is also investigating the issue of clotting, according to the report.

The post-hospitalization Covid-19 study is investigating whether people with persistent symptoms after hospitalization have chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. If found, it would be strong evidence that microclots are a significant problem, said lead researcher Chris Brightling, professor of respiratory medicine at the University.

“Whereas if we don’t see that, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that obviously – some people have clots – but it would make it less likely that it’s inherently a major problem,” he said.