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COVID-19 And Blood Thinners: How Do They Help Increase Survival Rates In Critical COVID-19 Patients?

Blood clotting is recognised as one of the COVID-19 complications often seen in moderately ill patients who have been hospitalised for the condition. Blood thinners are medications that are used to prevent excessive blood clots from forming.

Though blood clots or coagulation is necessary to prevent us from excessive blood loss due to injury of blood vessels, in conditions such as COVID-19 when there is no injury, high levels of clotting factors in the blood of severe COVID-19 patients can increase the risk of heart diseases, thus obstructing blood supply to the lungs and causing lung dysfunctions. [1]

In this article, we will discuss how blood thinners are essential to boost survival rates in coronavirus patients. Also, we will discuss some food sources which are natural blood thinners. Take a look.

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Why does Coagulation happen In Severe COVID-19 Patients?

According to a study, more than 33 per cent of COVID-19 patients with critical symptoms are reported to have high levels of blood clotting and D-dimer, a small protein fragment usually found after a blood clot has been formed and is in the process of breaking down.

The excessive development of coagulations in COVID-19 patients is still a mystery as no exact cause is determined yet.

However, some facts and data have shown that due to internal injury of the endothelial cells of the blood vessels (thin membranes that line inside of the blood vessels), blood clotting may take place.

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The internal injury to the endothelium could be done either directly or indirectly by the coronavirus. The COVID-19 infection can directly affect the endothelium by their spike proteins and indirectly by their virus-mediated inflammatory immune response. [2]

These may result in the activation of the blood clotting factors, causing the formation of blood clots.

Complications Due to Blood Clotting

Excessive blood clotting can increase the risk of certain conditions in coronavirus patients. These complications include: [3]

  • Stroke due to vasoconstriction resulting from vascular or blood vessels injury.
  • Heart attack
  • Lung failure
  • Increased risk of other infections such as dengue and herpes that mainly infect endothelial cells.
  • Acute renal failure

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Management Of Blood Clots In Hospitalised COVID-19 Patients By Blood Thinners

As per the clinical trial results based on 1000 plus moderately ill COVID-19 patients, blood thinners or anticoagulants such as heparin could help prevent the blood clots in hospitalised patients and improve their conditions.

Anticoagulants help reduce the release of inflammatory cytokines which are triggered due to the immune response of the coronavirus and thus, prevent the clotting of blood.

Blood thinners also help promote the growth of the endothelial cells which are damaged due to COVID-19 spike proteins, and help restore the natural vascular barrier. [4]

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List Of Some Natural Blood Thinners

Several herbs, fruits and vegetables are natural blood thinners and could be an important part of the COVID-19 diet. These foods not only help prevent the blood from clotting, but will also help in platelet functions and boost immunity. [5]

Some of the natural blood thinners include:

  • Echinacea: This herb may help prevent the blood clot that occurs due to platelet damage. However, it should not be taken by blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.
  • Garlic: It has an antithrombotic activity that may help improve the platelet count and promote blood thinning, along with improving blood circulation.
  • Ginger: A compound called salicylate in ginger acts as a blood thinner and prevents blood from clotting. It also helps reduce inflammation and relaxes the nerves.

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  • Green tea: This beverage can help prevent the platelet from clotting and reduce the risk of stroke due to the presence of antioxidants. Avoid drinking green tea if you are on blood-thinning medications.
  • Ginkgo biloba: This herb is rich in polyphenols that may help improve blood circulation by thinning the blood. Some studies say that ginkgo has similar effects to some vital thrombolytic medication drugs like streptokinase.
  • Other natural herbs include ginseng, cinnamon, kava and fish oil.

To note: Consume these herbs or their supplements after consulting with a medical expert.

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Other Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Blood Clots

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat foods that are natural blood thinners
  • Wear loose clothes
  • Drink more water, not at once but at regular intervals.
  • Perform aerobic activities like walking or swimming.
  • Consume antioxidants rich foods.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight

Remember, the best way to prevent blood clotting due to COVID-19 is by taking steps to avoid contacting the coronavirus in the first place. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash or sanitise hands frequently, and stay away from sick people.

Story first published: Thursday, April 29, 2021, 8:30 [IST]