RCSI research finds link between ‘long Covid’ and blood clotting

16 Aug 2021

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New research from RCSI aimed to understand if abnormal blood clotting explains why some Covid-19 patients experience long-term symptoms.

Blood clotting may be the root cause of so-called long Covid syndrome, according to new research led by scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

While scientists and healthcare professionals have found out more about Covid-19 and its impacts over the past year, long Covid is much less understood. In these cases, patients suffer from long-term symptoms such as fatigue and experience difficulty exercising, sometimes for months after the initial infection is resolved.

‘Understanding the root cause of a disease is the first step toward developing effective treatments’

Previous research at RCSI identified a link between severe cases of Covid-19 and abnormal blood clotting and identified how and why some Covid-19 patients can develop life-threatening blood clots.

In a new study published to the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, researchers examined 50 patients who had symptoms of long Covid in an attempt to see if abnormal blood clotting was also involved in this process.

They found that clotting markers were elevated in patients with long Covid compared to those in a control group. These markers were higher in patients who required hospitalisation for Covid-19 but were also high in those who had managed the illness at home.

The important link was that higher clotting rates were directly related to other symptoms of long Covid, such as reduced fitness and fatigue. While all other markers of inflammation had returned to their normal levels, the increased clotting potential was still there in those with long Covid symptoms.

“Understanding the root cause of a disease is the first step toward developing effective treatments,” said Prof James O’Donnell, director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology atRCSI and consultant haematologist in the National Coagulation Centre in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

“Millions of people are already dealing with the symptoms of long Covid syndrome, and more people will develop long Covid as the infections among the unvaccinated continue to occur. It is imperative that we continue to study this condition and develop effective treatments.”

Sam Cox was a journalist at Silicon Republic covering sci-tech news