Prevalence and Risk Factors of Venous Thromboembolism in Critically Ill Patients with Severe COVID-19 and the Association between the Dose of Anticoagulants and Outcomes

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2022-0023

Introduction: COVID-19 is characterized by a procoagulant state that increases the risk of venous and arterial thrombosis. The dose of anticoagulants in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia without suspected or confirmed thrombosis has been debated.
Aim of the study: We evaluated the prevalence, predictors, and outcomes of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in critically ill COVID-19 patients and assessed the association between the dose of anticoagulants and outcomes.
Materials and methods: This retrospective cohort included patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to the ICU between March and July 2020. Patients with clinically suspected and confirmed VTE were compared to those not diagnosed to have VTE.
Results: The study enrolled 310 consecutive patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia: age 60.0±15.1 years, 67.1% required mechanical ventilation and 44.7% vasopressors. Most (97.1%) patients received anticoagulants during ICU stay: prophylactic unfractionated heparin (N=106), standard-dose enoxaparin (N=104) and intermediate-dose enoxaparin (N=57). Limb Doppler ultrasound was performed for 49 (15.8%) patients and chest computed tomographic angiography for 62 (20%). VTE was diagnosed in 41 (13.2%) patients; 20 patients had deep vein thrombosis and 23 had acute pulmonary embolism. Patients with VTE had significantly higher D-dimer on ICU admission. On multivariable Cox regression analysis, intermediate-dose enoxaparin versus standard-dose unfractionated heparin or enoxaparin was associated with lower VTE risk (hazard ratio, 0.06; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.74) and lower risk of the composite outcome of VTE or hospital mortality (hazard ratio, 0.42; 95% confidence interval, 0.23-0.78; p=0.006). Major bleeding was not different between the intermediate- and prophylactic-dose heparin groups.
Conclusions: In our study, clinically suspected and confirmed VTE was diagnosed in 13.2% of critically ill patients with COVID-19. Intermediate-dose enoxaparin versus standard-dose unfractionated heparin or enoxaparin was associated with decreased risk of VTE or hospital mortality.

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