Acute submassive pulmonary embolism after SARS-CoV-2 infection: a case report of reinfection or prolonged hypercoagulable state

Eur Heart J Case Rep. 2021 Mar 24;5(3):ytab103. doi: 10.1093/ehjcr/ytab103. eCollection 2021 Mar.


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) reinfection has been a topic of discussion with data still emerging. Viral antibodies are known to develop upon initial infection; however, it is unclear the amount of protection this confers against reinfection. Additionally, COVID-19-associated coagulopathy (CAC) is a well-documented phenomenon; however, there are no high-quality studies to support the treatment of outpatients beyond standard indications of venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis. This case describes a patient with either COVID-19 reinfection or prolonged course of CAC resulting in pulmonary embolism (PE).

CASE SUMMARY: A 40-year-old healthy man presented with fever and cough. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent home to self-quarantine. His symptoms resolved and repeat COVID-19 testing returned negative. Two months later, he developed dyspnoea on exertion and syncope. Computed tomography with PE protocol demonstrated acute bilateral PE, and repeat COVID-19 testing returned positive. He was escalated to catheter-directed thrombolysis, but prior to the procedure went into cardiopulmonary arrest. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated and full-dose systemic alteplase was administered. Cardiothoracic surgery was consulted for consideration of veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; however, return of spontaneous circulation was unable to be achieved.

DISCUSSION: This case raises the question of COVID-19 reinfection and prolonged risk of VTE due to CAC. We believe the patient was reinfected with COVID-19 provoking his PE; however, a single COVID-19 infection causing a prolonged course of CAC is possible. Until better data exists, decisions regarding outpatient prophylaxis must be individualized to weigh the risks of bleeding against the risk of thrombosis.

PMID:34113773 | PMC:PMC8186916 | DOI:10.1093/ehjcr/ytab103