Blood thinners reduce the need for mechanical ventilation in patients with moderate cases of COVID-19
Blood thinners reduce need for mechanical ventilation in patients with moderate cases of COVID-19, but NOT in those who are critically ill, NIH study finds
- A new study looked at 5,500 hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19, of whom 1,074 were critically ill and 2,219 moderately ill
- Half of each group received a full dose of the blood thinner heparin and the other half received a low dose
- Previous studies showed that patients taking anticoagulants had better survival rates than those not on the drugs, both in and out of intensive care.
- A full dose of blood thinner reduced the need for organ support for moderately ill patients and improved their chances of leaving the hospital, but for critically ill patients
Blood thinners help treated patients with moderate cases of COVID-19, but not those who are critically ill, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, looked at more than 5,500 hospitalized patients infected with the virus.
They found that a full dose of blood thinner reduced the need for organ support for moderately ill patients and improved their chances of leaving the hospital.
However, critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care did not have the same results when they received this treatment.
Full-dose blood thinner reduced the need for organ support for moderately ill patients and improved their chances of leaving the hospital, new study finds
The same was not true for critically ill patients who received a high dose
“These results are a compelling example of how important it is to stratify patients of varying disease severity in clinical trials,” said Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of the NHLBI, in a statement.
“What may help one subgroup of patients may not benefit or even harm another subgroup.”
Early in the pandemic, doctors noted an increasing number of coronavirus patients with blood clots in the feet – causing bruises known as ‘COVID toes’ – to blockages in the brain leading to strokes or death.
Previous studies from the Netherlands and France have shown that up to a third of critically ill COVID-19 patients have had a pulmonary embolism.
This happens when blood clots travel to the lungs, creating an imminent blockage in the arteries.
Therefore, some researchers believe that anticoagulants can prevent deadly blood clots, but do not know at what dose or at what time of infection they can be effective.
For the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the team looked at 1,074 critically ill and 2,219 moderately ill patients.
Moderately ill patients were defined as those who were hospitalized but did not require organ support, while critically ill patients were defined as hospitalized and required intensive care.
In April 2020, patients received either a low dose or a full dose of heparin, which prevents the formation of blood clots.
Researchers looked at the results through December 2020.
They found that it reduced the need for organ support such as mechanical ventilation for moderately ill patients by 99 percent compared to those who received low doses.
For critically ill patients, the full dose did not reduce the need for organ support or increase their
“The formal conclusions of these studies suggest that initiating therapeutic anticoagulation is beneficial for moderately ill patients and once patients develop severe COVID-19, it may be too late for heparin anticoagulation to alter the consequences of this disease,” he said. corresponding author Dr. Judith Hochman, senior associate dean for clinical sciences at New York University.
“The medications being evaluated in these studies are known to physicians around the world and are widely accessible, making the findings highly applicable to moderately ill COVID-19 patients.”