As recent research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates, COVID-19 patients at times can succumb to abnormal blood clots triggered by intense inflammation—raising the risk of severe illness and death. Recently a trio of academic medical centers sought out to verify this hypothesis. A study led by University of Minnesota with collaborators at Mayo Clinic and University of Basel, Switzerland researchers, conducted a prospective cohort study centering on subjects 18 years of age and up diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 4th to August 27th, 2020. Involving 12 hospitals and 60 clinics of M Health Fairview system (USA). The study team investigate linkages between A) 90-day anticoagulation therapy among outpatients before COVID-19 diagnosis and the risk for hospitalization and mortality and B) inpatient anticoagulation therapy and mortality risk. Led by Sameh Hozayen, MD, MSC, assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, the study team sought to test whether anticoagulant drugs used to inhibit blood clots who previously struggled with clots in the lungs or legs benefitted from use during the earlier part of the pandemic. Anticoagulants, of course, are used to address secondary clots. The evidence strengthens that this class of economical drug has a positive impact on COVID-19 outcomes.
The Study Team
Using de-identified data from M Health Fairview and after obtaining appropriate ethical committee approval, the study was a collaborative effort between U of M Medical School faculty Chris Tignanelli, Michael Usher, Zachary Kaltenborn, Surbhi Shah, and Diana Zychowski; U of M School of Public Health faculty Ryan Demmer, Pamela Lutsey, and Sydney Benson; and Basel University Pathology Institute faculty Alexander Tzankov and Jasmin Haslbauer.
With the study uploaded to Lancet Open Access Clinical Medicine, the study team found a few important points, including 1) those patients on anticoagulants prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection are hospitalized less frequently even if they are older and struggle with chronic conditions; 2) these blood thinner drugs lessen the mortality rate by almost half regardless if they are used before or after SARS-CoV-2 infection or for that matter if they were first administered when the patient was admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 care and 3) patients in the hospital will benefit from anticoagulants reports the University of Minnesota Medical School News writer Kat Dodge.
The investigators found one problem with medication adherence. Suppose patients would simply follow through and take their anticoagulant medication. In that case, they can “potentially reduce the bad effects of COVID-19’ reports Dr. Hozayen. The investigator reports that at the health system (M Health Fairview) as well as other centers, “there are protocols for starting blood thinners when patients are first admitted to the hospital for COVID-19.” This is because these investigators are convinced blood thinners are “a proven vital treatment option.”
Sameh Hozayen, MD, MSC, assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School