In a new study from the University of Manitoba and elsewhere, researchers found full-dose anticoagulation with heparin (a blood thinner) can improve survival and reduces the need for ventilation in moderately ill COVID-19 patients.
They suggest heparin could improve survival and decreased progression to severe disease, thus reducing the pressure on intensive care units globally.
Early in the pandemic, physicians around the world found increased rates of blood clots and inflammation among COVID-19 patients which affected multiple organs and led to lung failure, heart attack and stroke.
In the study, the team found that full-dose anticoagulation with heparin had no effect on critically ill patients – but the findings were completely different in non-critically ill patients.
Results of the treatment among moderately ill COVID patients showed full doses of heparin reduced the need for life support with improved survival.
Moderately ill patients are defined as hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were not in ICU and who were not receiving organ support such as mechanical ventilation at trial enrollment.
Their analysis involved 1,074 critically ill and 2,219 moderately ill patients.
The team discovered that in moderately ill patients full-dose heparin reduced the need for organ support compared to those who received lower-dose heparin.
Their conclusions have set a new standard of care for moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients around the world using an affordable, accessible and familiar drug. As such the results of the trial can be immediately applied.
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The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. One author of the study is Ryan Zarychanski, MD, M.Sc.
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