Background: Hypercoagulopathy in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary artery embolism necessitate systemic anticoagulation. Case reports of intracerebral hemorrhages in ventilated COVID-19 patients warrant precaution. It is unclear however, if COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with and without extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy (ECMO) have more intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH) compared to other ARDS patients.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational single center study enrolling all patients with ARDS from 01/2018-05/2020. Patients with ARDS positive for SARS-CoV2 PCR were allocated to the COVID-19 group. Propensity score matching was performed for age, ECMO and risk of bleeding according to HAS-BLED score.
Results: A total of 163, mostly severe ARDS patients were identified, 116 (71.2%) without COVID-19 and 47 (28.8%) positive for SARS-CoV-2. The two groups were comparable concerning the main confounders of ICH including age, HAS-BLED score, need for ECMO-therapy as well as anticoagulation levels reported. In 63/163 cases (38.7%), veno-venous ECMO therapy was required and ICU survival was 52.8%. Although HAS-BLED-score on admission was generally low (1.6±1.3), intracerebral hemorrhage was detected in 22 patients (13.5%) with no statistical difference between the groups (11.2 vs. 19.1% with and without SARS-CoV-2, respectively, p=0.21). Propensity score matching confirmed similar intracerebral bleeding rates in both groups (12.8 vs. 19.1% with and without SARS-CoV-2, respectively, p=0.57).
Conclusions: Intracerebral hemorrhage was detectable in every tenth patient with ARDS. We found no statistically significant increased bleeding rate in patients with ARDS due to COVID-19 compared to other causes of ARDS.