Blood thinners significantly reduce COVID-related mortality, hospitalisation: study


COVID-19 patients who use blood thinners may have a nearly 50 per cent reduced risk of death and a 43 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation, according to a study published in Lancet’s EClinical Medicine journal.

The research was conducted on 6,195 patients over the age of 18 who were diagnosed with COVID-19 from March 4 to August 27, 2020 in 12 hospitals and 60 clinics in the US.

The researchers from the University of Minnesota, US, and Basel University in Switzerland analysed the relationship between 90-day anticoagulation therapy among out-patients before COVID-19 diagnosis and the risk for hospitalisation and mortality.

The researchers also evaluated the association between anticoagulation therapy, which is used to prevent blood clots, and mortality risk among admitted patients.

The study found that patients on blood thinners before contracting COVID-19 were 43 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital, despite being older and having more chronic medical conditions than their peers.

Blood thinners, regardless of being used before being infected with COVID-19 or started when admitted to the hospital for treatment of the viral disease, reduce deaths by almost half, they added.

The researchers noted that, overall, hospitalised COVID-19 patients benefit from blood thinners regardless of the type or dose of the medication used.

“Many individuals with COVID-19 develop abnormal blood clots from high inflammation, which can lead to serious health complications and mortality,” said study lead author Sameh Hozayen, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota.

“Blood thinners are medications prescribed to prevent blood clots in patients with a prior blood clot in their lungs or legs. They also prevent blood clots in the brain secondary to abnormal heart rhythms, like atrial fibrillation,” Hozayen wrote in the journal.

The researchers said blood thinners are the standard of treatment in these diseases, which is why they looked at data to see if it impacted hospitalisations related to COVID-19.

“We already know that overwhelmed hospitals have a higher risk for death among their patients, so reducing hospitalisation may have a positive impact during a COVID-19 surge,” Hozayen added.

The researchers also noted that about half the patients prescribed blood thinners for blood clots in their legs, lungs, abnormal heart rhythms or other reasons do not take them.

Increasing adherence for people already prescribed blood thinners can potentially reduce the bad effects of COVID-19, they said.

“At most centers around the world now, there are protocols for starting blood thinners when patients are first admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 — as it is a proven vital treatment option,” Hozayen said.

“Outside of COVID-19, the use of blood thinners is proven to be lifesaving for those with blood coagulations conditions,” the scientist added.

The team is currently working with research groups in other parts of the world such as Egypt to look at how blood thinners impact patients in less-invested health care systems and in different patient populations.

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