COVID-19 Triggers Recurrent Blood Clots in Arm

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For the first time, researchers report a case of COVID-19 triggering recurrent blood clots in the arm of an asymptomatic man.

The effects of COVID-19 on the human body are an area of great interest for researchers around the world. Multiple studies are currently underway to help understand the novel coronavirus better and potentially find a possible treatment. One such study is being conducted at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The study includes 1,000 hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between March and May 2020. Now, for the first time, the team has reported a case of COVID-19 triggering recurrent blood clots in the arm of an 85-year-old man. According to the case study published in the journal Viruses, their report sheds light on the long-term damage COVID-19 can induce in a body.

The 85-year-old was first diagnosed with upper extremity blood clots in 2017. Later on, in November 2020, he began to notice a swelling on the left arm, without any pain or shortness of breath. Upon consultation, he received a diagnosis of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (UEDVT) and underwent hospitalization for further management. He was discharged the next day after receiving the appropriate treatment. His previous UEDVT did not cause any lingering effects; however, this particular event left him with a reduced ability to flex the arm at the elbow.

As per routine hospital protocol, a nasopharyngeal PCR swab was conducted for SARS-CoV-2. His test came back positive after he was discharged from the hospital, and so he quarantined himself for 10 days. However, he remained asymptomatic throughout the period.

This is of concern since, in 30 percent of these patients, the blood clot can travel to the lung and be possibly fatal. Other disabling complications include persistent swelling, pain and arm fatigue

Payal Parikh, study author

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) results from a blood clot in a vein, usually in the leg or thigh. Most blood clots occur in the lower extremity; however, 4-10% can occur in the arms. Additionally, only 2.4% of patients with a history of UEDVT face a recurrence of blood clot. Although COVID-19 often presents with lower extremity blood clots, this is the first time it has triggered recurrent blood clots in the upper arm of an asymptomatic patient.

While his oxygen levels were not diminished, he was hospitalized for the management of the upper extremity deep vein blood clot. Often, blood clots are preceded by chronic inflammatory conditions exacerbated by immobility, and rarely do they occur in patients who are otherwise healthy and active at baseline

Payal Parikh, study author

Experts believe that the hyperinflammatory state in COVID-19 triggers the cells involved in the process of clotting. Thus, resulting in thromboembolic events. Therefore, the authors of the study recommend testing for DCT in COVID-19 patients who present with unexplained swellings in their lower and upper extremity. Moreover, those with a previous case of DVT have a higher risk of recurrence following COVID-19.


Parekh,Y.H.;Altomare, N.J.; McDonnell, E.P.; Blaser, M.J.; Parikh, P.D. Recurrence of Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis Secondary to COVID-19. Viruses 2021, 13,878. v13050878


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