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Arterial and venous thromboembolism in COVID-19: a study-level meta-analysis


Background The prevalence of venous thromboembolic event (VTE) and arterial thromboembolic event (ATE) thromboembolic events in patients with COVID-19 remains largely unknown.

Methods In this meta-analysis, we systematically searched for observational studies describing the prevalence of VTE and ATE in COVID-19 up to 30 September 2020.

Results We analysed findings from 102 studies (64 503 patients). The frequency of COVID-19-related VTE was 14.7% (95% CI 12.1% to 17.6%, I2=94%; 56 studies; 16 507 patients). The overall prevalence rates of pulmonary embolism (PE) and leg deep vein thrombosis were 7.8% (95% CI 6.2% to 9.4%, I2=94%; 66 studies; 23 117 patients) and 11.2% (95% CI 8.4% to 14.3%, I2=95%; 48 studies; 13 824 patients), respectively. Few were isolated subsegmental PE. The VTE prevalence was significantly higher in intensive care unit (ICU) (23.2%, 95% CI 17.5% to 29.6%, I2=92%, vs 9.0%, 95% CI 6.9% to 11.4%, I2=95%; pinteraction<0.0001) and in series systematically screening patients compared with series testing symptomatic patients (25.2% vs 12.7%, pinteraction=0.04). The frequency rates of overall ATE, acute coronary syndrome, stroke and other ATE were 3.9% (95% CI 2.0% to to 3.0%, I2=96%; 16 studies; 7939 patients), 1.6% (95% CI 1.0% to 2.2%, I2=93%; 27 studies; 40 597 patients) and 0.9% (95% CI 0.5% to 1.5%, I2=84%; 17 studies; 20 139 patients), respectively. Metaregression and subgroup analyses failed to explain heterogeneity of overall ATE. High heterogeneity limited the value of estimates.

Conclusions Patients admitted in the ICU for severe COVID-19 had a high risk of VTE. Conversely, further studies are needed to determine the specific effects of COVID-19 on the risk of ATE or VTE in less severe forms of the disease.

  • pulmonary embolism
  • viral infection

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data have been provided in the figures and tables.

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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