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July 28, 2020

National Blood Clot Alliance Receives CDC Grant to Support COVID-19 Research and Public Awareness Campaign

July 28, 2020—The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA), in partnership with the University of Oklahoma, has received an award through an Association of University Centers on Disabilities—Centers for Disease Control cooperative agreement to facilitate and advance research into blood clots as a complication of COVID-19. The award will also fund researchers’ efforts to raise awareness among certain high-risk populations, including how COVID blood clot complications affect Black patients and pediatric patients.

NBCA is a patient advocacy organization focused on life-threatening blood clots. More information is available at stoptheclot.org.

As noted in the NBCA announcement, blood clots have been commonly observed in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic. The condition is often characterized by elevations in fibrinogen and D-dimer levels, as well as by clinical events including deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and arterial events including stroke.

Medical experts in the field are concerned about data suggesting that approximately one in three patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 will develop a potentially life-threatening blood clot. Additionally, patients with milder illness, or those who are asymptomatic or unaware that they are infected with the coronavirus, are developing dangerous blood clots. However, little is known about the incidence, prevalence, and outcomes of COVID-related blood clots in adult and pediatric patients.

NBCA’s Medical & Scientific Advisory Board (MASAB) hopes to fill the gap in knowledge by coalescing data that are being collected across the United States into a central repository for information about COVID-related blood clots so that experts can develop the most effective treatment regimens and best practices.

NBCA outlined the following key objectives of this work:

  • Developing a COVID-19 blood clot data repository that will gather and analyze information regarding the prevalence of venous and arterial thromboembolic events in adult and pediatric hospitalized, intensive care unit, and postdischarge settings.
  • Examining Black and pediatric populations at high risk by collecting and disseminating information regarding rates of thromboembolic events among these less-studied populations.
  • Establishing best treatment practices by planning and hosting a survey of best practices regarding blood clot treatments for hospitalized patients with COVID-19, intensive care unit patients with COVID-19, and adult and pediatric patients discharged after hospitalization for COVID-19.
  • Educating clinicians and health care professionals regarding COVID-19–related blood clot prevalence, incidence, and anticoagulant best practices by developing a narrative and/or systematic review that analyzes and interprets data from the above surveys as well as input from patients and patient advocates.

Another critical component of the grant program is the development of a public awareness campaign to provide new knowledge and information about the association between COVID-19 and the development of blood clots to higher-risk populations, the general public, and health care professionals through educational materials made readily available online.

Alok Khorana, MD, who serves as NBCA MASAB Chair, commented in the announcement, “As the complex clinical impacts of this global pandemic continue to emerge, medical experts in hematology and blood disorders continue to sharpen their understanding about the connection between COVID-19 and life-threatening blood clots. Therefore, it's crucial that the collective knowledge and insights of experts in this field are leveraged effectively to fortify the work of our frontline clinicians to help optimize the care of all patients affected by COVID-19.” Dr. Khorana is Professor of Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio.

Leslie Lake, President of NBCA’s Board of Directors, added, “The NBCA is steadfastly committed to ensuring that the highest standards of quality care are recognized by clinicians and accessible to all people affected by clotting disorders, including the unprecedented clotting being reported among individuals affected by COVID-19, or anyone who might experience a potentially life-threatening blood clot. The blood disorders community needs to combine its resources and expertise to blunt the impact of blood clots and help build awareness among physicians and patients alike.”

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