Blood thinners could play an important role in treating seriously ill coronavirus patients, scientists say.
COVID-19 patients placed on ventilators have shown significantly reduced death rates when given blood-thinning medication, a new study conducted by Mount Sinai Health System found.
Of the 395 ventilated patients analyzed, 62.7 percent of patients not given the anticoagulants died, compared to 29.1 percent of those given the medication, according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Dr. Valentin Fuster, the senior corresponding author of the study, said blood thinners can prevent potentially deadly conditions linked to the virus, including heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary embolisms.
“Using anticoagulants should be considered when patients get admitted to the ER and have tested positive for COVID-19 to possibly improve outcomes,” Fuster said in a statement.
Though the team has cautioned that the findings are preliminary and that the medication is not for everyone, health care providers should carefully weigh whether patients have an increased bleeding risk.
Doctors have already begun using the medicine in their treatment of patients but said the observational study was helpful anecdotal evidence. However, more data would be needed to prove a link between blood thinners and a decreased COVID-19 fatality rate.
“This study doesn’t help us figure that out, but it is helpful because we’ve been anticoagulating these patients anyway based on no data,” Dr. Hugh Cassiere, a pulmonologist and the medical director of Respiratory Care Services at North Shore University Hospital, told NBC News.
The study evaluated records of 2,773 confirmed coronavirus patients admitted to five hospitals in the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, between March 14 and April 11.
The Mount Sinai researchers are planning a similar study with nearly double the number of patients before possibly advancing to clinical trials to determine the best applications of the medicine.
“As a cardiologist who has been on service caring for COVID-19 patients for the last three weeks, I have observed an increased amount of blood clot cases among hospitalized patients, so it is critical to look at whether anticoagulants provide benefits for them,” said co-researcher Anu Lala, MD.