FRIDAY, Feb. 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Giving blood thinners to COVID-19 patients soon after they're hospitalized could reduce their risk of dying.
That's the conclusion of a new study that analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on nearly 4,300 patients, average age 68, who were hospitalized with COVID between March 1 and July 31.
Of those, more than 84% received blood thinners within 24 hours of admission -- a step called prophylactic anticoagulation.
In the 30 days after admission, the overall death rate was 14.5%.
The death rate was 14.3% among patients who received the blood thinners and 18.7% among those who did not.
The benefit appeared to be greater among patients who weren't admitted to intensive care within 24 hours of hospitalization.
Researchers said they accounted for other potentially important factors such as patients' age, ethnicity, underlying health conditions, medication history, weight and tobacco use.
Significantly, patients who received blood thinners didn't have a higher risk of serious bleeding than those who didn't receive blood thinners, according to the team led by Christopher Rentsch, an assistant professor at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England. The findings were published Feb. 11 in the BMJ.
Some COVID-19 deaths are believed to be caused by blood clots forming in major arteries and veins. Blood thinners prevent clots and have antiviral, and possibly anti-inflammatory, properties.
Clinical trials are being conducted to determine if prophylactic anticoagulation could be an effective treatment for COVID-19.
Until results from those trials are available, this study's findings "provide strong real world evidence to support guidelines recommending the use of prophylactic anticoagulation as initial treatment for patients with COVID-19 on hospital admission," Rentsch and his colleagues said in a journal news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.
SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Feb. 11, 2021