Blood thinner drugs may not benefit critically ill COVID-19 patients

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In a new study, researchers found that among critically ill COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care unit (ICU) support, blood thinner drugs did not improve outcomes.

Three clinical trial platforms working together to test the effects of full doses of blood thinners in critically ill COVID-19 patients have paused enrollment.

As is normal for clinical trials, these trials are overseen by independent boards that routinely review the data and are composed of experts in ethics, biostatistics, clinical trials, and blood clotting disorders.

Informed by the deliberations of these oversight boards, all of the trial sites have paused enrollment of the most critically ill hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

The potential for harm in this sub-group could not be excluded. Increased bleeding is a known complication of full-dose blood thinner drugs.

The trials are working urgently to undertake additional analyses which will be made available as soon as possible.

At the recommendation of the oversight boards, patients who do not require ICU care at the time of enrollment will continue to be enrolled in the trial.

The findings are reported by a team at the University of Manitoba.

Whether the use of full-dose compared to low-dose blood thinners leads to better outcomes in hospitalized patients with the less severe disease remains a very important question.

COVID-19 is linked to strong inflammation and clinical and pathologic evidence of widespread blood clots.

These trials were launched because clinicians have observed that many patients ill with COVID-19, including those who have died from the disease, formed blood clots throughout their bodies, even in their smallest blood vessels.

This unusual clotting can cause multiple health complications, including lung failure, heart attack, and stroke.

The team says that in most critically ill patients with COVID-19, all of the trial sites have paused enrollment while they further analyze the data.

These results question the benefit of giving full-dose anticoagulants routinely in COVID-19 patients who are admitted to an ICU.

One researcher of the study is Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor of medicine.

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