Blood thinner therapy was associated with improved survival among COVID-19 patients both in and out of intensive care, the study authors said.
Among patients placed on ventilators, nearly 63% of those who weren’t treated with blood thinners died, compared with 29% of those who were given the drugs, the researchers reported. Among patients on ventilators who died, those who didn’t receive blood thinners died after nine days, while those given the drugs died after 21 days.
Of all the patients who died, those on anticoagulants died after spending an average of 21 days in the hospital, while those who didn’t receive anticoagulants died after an average of 14 days in the hospital.
Importantly, there was no significant difference in bleeding events among patients who received or didn’t receive blood thinners, according to the study published May 6 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
“This research demonstrates anticoagulants taken orally, subcutaneously, or intravenously may play a major role in caring for COVID-19 patients, and these may prevent possible deadly events associated with coronavirus, including heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism [clot in the lungs],” Fuster said.
Two physicians unconnected to the new study agreed that blood thinners might be warranted in many COVID-19 patients.
Already, New York City’s “Lenox Hill Hospital has been using anticoagulation on COVID-admitted patients at high risk for thrombosis [clots],” said Dr. Varinder Singh, who directs cardiology at Lenox Hill.
“This study is the first to confirm the benefits of anticoagulation during the acute illness,” Singh said, and “larger trials are needed to confirm the conclusion and best anticoagulation strategy.”
Dr. Mitchell Weinberg directs cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital, also in New York City. He said that given the mounting evidence that COVID-19 promotes clots, “there are concerns that we are not treating these patients with blood thinners aggressively enough or early enough.”
But the routine use of blood thinners in these patients is still “controversial,” Weinberg stressed.
“There is clearly so much to learn about thrombosis in patients with COVID. We have only begun to scratch the surface,” Weinberg said.