Heparin Keeps Some COVID Patients Off a Ventilator


Pittsburgh, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—With the COVID Delta variant fueling hospitalizations again, doctors are continuing to weigh the best treatments for seriously ill patients. A newly published study suggests that for some patients, a full dose of a blood thinner may improve their chances of avoiding a ventilator. Heparin

When a patient’s lungs are failing due to COVID and doctors are out of options, mechanical ventilation has been a last resort.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have identified a possible treatment for patients who are moderately sick with COVID. The therapy focuses on clots that are thought to form in the large and small vessels in the lungs.

“The hypothesis was that if we gave medicines to prevent clot formation, we might improve outcomes or improve organ functions,” said Matthew Neal, MD, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

In two trials involving 3,300 hospitalized patients, doctors gave patients either a low-dose or one full dose of heparin.

Matthew Neal, MD, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, shared, “Heparin is well-known as a blood thinner, but heparin also has anti-inflammatory properties. What we do know is that patients who were moderately ill, so sick enough to be in the hospital, but not in the ICU, when started on heparin were less likely to require ICU level of care and less likely to die.”

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In fact, the researchers say that there is a 99 percent probability that a full dose of heparin reduces the chance that moderately ill patients will die or need a ventilator as compared to the patients who received a low dose.

Researchers say while heparin had an impact on moderately ill patients, it did not help patients who were critically ill. They also say the study’s findings suggest that a full dose of heparin for moderately ill patients may eventually become standard of care for COVID treatment.

The study was done at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, New York University’s School of Medicine, and several other institutions worldwide. It was part of a global initiative to identify new COVID-19 treatments.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4960

BACKGROUND: Researchers conducted a global trial treating moderately ill COVID patients with blood thinners to reduce clots, and evaluated their need for organ support, like ventilation, and their chances of leaving the hospital sooner. The study found the earlier a hospitalized patient is put on blood thinner the better chance they have to go home and stay out of the ICU. Researchers started this trial because they observed that people who have died of COVID-19 because of blood clots forming throughout their bodies. The study results showed patients responded best if they were moderately ill and received a full dose of heparin, a commonly used blood thinner.

(Source: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/full-dose-blood-thinners-reduce-need-organ-support-moderately-ill-covid-19-patients-not-critically-ill-patients)

COMPLICATIONS: Four-point-six percent of the patients given blood thinners to reduce their COVID-19 symptoms experienced severe bleeding that required a blood transfusion, and the adverse effect was not associated with the prophylactic anticoagulation medication. COVID-19 patients have very “sticky” blood, due to the sickness causing them to develop deep vein thrombosis, which can break off and travel through the patient’s body causing clots. Those who are pregnant should not receive anti-coagulants.

(Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/blood-thinners-may-protect-against-covid-19-complications#Collecting-patient-data)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: New research indicates technology developed to fight COVID-19 may help doctors figure out ways to also fight cancer. mRNA is being developed further with the technology used for the COVID-19 vaccine. Normally when using mRNA to treat cancer, it doesn’t last long in the body. Researchers from China have developed and tested a new hydrogel that stabilizes mRNA and contains it, allowing a slower release into the body. This compound improves the immune response to vaccines, making mRNA more effective, but not a cure yet. They first did this with the COVID-19 vaccine, creating the vaccine to attack infected cells; however, if researchers could transfer this over to cancerous cells, they say cancer could potentially be easier to beat.

(Source: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-covid-19-technology-may-help-fight-cancer-in-the-near-future#What-the-future-holds)





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Matthew Neal, MD, Trauma Surgeon

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