Who is at risk of blood clots? How could AstraZeneca cause them? Can aspirin prevent them?

Who is at risk of blood clots? How could AstraZeneca cause them? Can aspirin prevent them?

AstraZeneca: Sister of blood clot victim urges UK to get jabbed

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Blood clots symptoms can include throbbing and cramping pain, swelling, redness and a feeling of warmth in one’s extremities. A total of 79 people in the UK experienced blood clots after receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, 19 of which subsequently died. Express.co.uk speaks to a London GP and a virologist about the risk factors associated with the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.

Millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine have been distributed to people around the UK.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will no longer be available to those aged 18 to 29.

Instead, those in this age group will be offered an alternative due to a possible link between the Covid vaccine.

The leading scientists and medical experts claim blood clots are “extremely rare and unlikely to occur”.

However the UK’s vaccine advisory body (the MHRA) this week announced its decision to ban the vaccine’s use for those aged 18 to 29.

The move was taken after the body confirmed 79 people in the UK had suffered rare blood clots by the end of March, of which 19 people died.

The MHRA said this did not prove the vaccine caused the clots but said the link was getting firmer.

The MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine said a link between rare blood clots and the vaccine is a “strong possibility”.

She added more work is needed to “establish beyond all doubt” there is a link.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We will follow today’s updated advice, which should allow people of all ages to continue to have full confidence in vaccines, helping us save lives and cautiously return towards normality.”

Who is at risk of blood clots?

According to the new advice, those most at risk at those in the 18 to 29 age group.

However, the experts claim there are many other people at higher risk of blood clots.

Professor Martin Michaelis, virologist and professor of molecular medicine at the University of Kent, said “there is not enough data” to fully answer this question.

Professor Michaelis told Express.co.uk: “Women generally have a higher risk of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

“Moreover, oral contraceptives (the ‘Pill’) are associated with an increased risk of blood clotting including cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

“Initially, the numbers seemed to suggest that cerebral venous sinus thrombosis cases occur more often in younger individuals and in females.

“However, the numbers are still too small to conclude firmly whether a certain group of the population is at a particularly high risk or not.”

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Dr Paul Ettlinger, GP at The London General Practice, revealed those at highest risk are those with “a history of major venous and arterial thrombosis with low platelets”.

Dr Ettlinger told Express.co.uk: “Risk-benefit analysis in patients with a history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, acquired or hereditary thrombophilia, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or antiphospholipid syndrome should only be considered when the potential benefit outweighs any potential risks.

“Patients who have experienced major venous and arterial thrombosis occurring with thrombocytopenia following vaccination with any COVID-19 vaccine should not receive a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca.”

The GP added pregnancy “predisposes” patients to experiencing thrombosis.

How could AstraZeneca cause blood clots?

The virologist was keen to stress there has yet been no proven correlation between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting.

Professor Michaelis told Express.co.uk: “It is important to mention that we do not even know for sure whether the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots.

“If you start monitoring a large cohort of individuals, you will always find an over-or underrepresentation of certain events simply by chance.

“Hence, it is very difficult to conclude whether phenomena that you observe are actually associated with a certain intervention, in particular in the absence of a control cohort.”

She added: “If the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine causes cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, we can currently only speculate about the mechanisms.

“Currently, the most plausible explanation is that inflammatory processes associated with the immune response indirectly activate platelets resulting in the formation of blood clots.

“There appears to be a similarity to another rare condition called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, which is also associated with blot clotting and reduced platelet numbers.

“In this condition, the anticoagulant (blood thinner) heparin can temporarily induce the formation of antibodies, which then interact with platelets and cause blood clots.

“The immune response induced by the vaccine may induce a similar reaction in very few individuals.”

Dr Ettlinger referenced a study that suggests the vaccine causes this issue due to its inducement of platelet-activating antibodies which results in platelet pre-activation.

He told Express.co.uk: “A study by Greinacher and others dated March 28 as a research article suggested that the vaccination induces platelet-activating antibodies clinically resembling heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) by direct binding of the virus to platelets with the adenovirus causing platelet pre-activation.”

Can aspirin prevent blood clots?

Daily low-dose aspirin acts as a form of blood-thinning medicine.

This form of medication can prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Given its effectiveness in preventing blood clots, many believe aspirin can be an effective form of preventing this issue after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.

Dr Ettlinger referenced the Greinacher study and outlined how it could help prevent blood clots.

He told Express.co.uk: “The study suggested the NOACs (novel oral anticoagulants) Rivaroxaban and Apixaban can be considered for treatment along with immunoglobulin.”

The University of Kent professor said there are many common therapies for medical issues which make individuals more prone to blood clot issues.

Professor Michaelis told Express.co.uk: “Anticoagulants (blood thinners) are used in the prevention and therapy of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and other forms of blood clotting.

“However, such therapies are associated with an increased risk of bleeding and need to be applied with care.

“If we can identify reliable diagnostic markers that identify those who are at particular risk, anticoagulation therapy can be started as early as possible to prevent severe damage.

“This is actually similar to the treatment of COVID-19, which is in more than a quarter of cases associated with blood clotting.”

Professor Michaelis added: “Low doses of aspirin are indeed used to prevent blood clotting in some patients.

“However, further research will be needed to see whether there are individuals, who might benefit from this.

“People should not start using aspirin as blood thinner without prior consultation with their GP.”

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