GPs to prescribe blood thinners to coronavirus patients at high risk of thrombosis

General practitioners will now prescribe blood thinners to patients who have or are suspected of having the coronavirus and are also at high risk of thrombosis. This is meant as a preventative to serious consequences of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, NOS reports.

The instruction to prescribe blood thinners to at risk coronavirus patients is in a new guideline for general practitioners. "To our knowledge, the Netherlands is the first country to offer special treatment advice to general practitioners aimed at preventing the serious consequences of the coronavirus in risk groups," Geert-Jan Geersing, GP and researcher at UMC Utrecht, said to the broadcaster.  Thrombosis is the formation of blood clots and can be life threateningly dangerous. Previous studies showed that many Covid-19 patients develop thrombosis. In the intensive care unit, about half of Covid-19 patients formed blood clots.

Blood thinners will only be prescribed to people who tested positive for the coronavirus or have symptoms indicating the coronavirus and are at high risk of thrombosis. For example, cancer patients, people who had thrombosis in the past, or have a family history of thrombosis. That is about 150 thousand to 200 thousand Netherlands residents per year. The purpose of the blood thinners is to prevent his complication. This type of blood thinner is different to the so-called platelet inhibitors prescribed to people with cardiovascular disease and will be administered by injection. 

"We are talking here about starting treatment for the complications of corona,' Geersing said to NOS. "There is a lot that we don't know about what the coronavirus causes. But the relationship with thrombosis is undeniable. That is why we now include in the guideline that GPs can already play an important role in preventing it."

As blood thinners also have side effects, the GP will have to assess whether prescribing the drug is really necessary per individual patient.