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How heparin helps in COVID care

Friday August 6th 2021

Heparin is an effective treatment for moderately ill COVID-19 patients but not for those with critical illness, according to the findings of a major international study.

The full results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week.

The study involved 1,074 critically ill patients and 2,219 moderately ill patients.

The study found that in moderately ill patients – not in intensive care – full dose heparin reduced the need for organ support compared with low dose heparin.

However full dose heparin was linked to a high risk of a worse outcome, the study found. Heparin was tested as a treatment for the virus as evidence emerged of its ability to cause blood clotting in the lungs and other key organs.

Professor Alistair Nichol, who led the study in Ireland, said: "Patients with COVID-19 in Irish ICUs contributed to these findings, which will allow us to improve treatments for future COVID-19 patients in Ireland and elsewhere.”

Researcher Dr Ewan Goligher, from Toronto General Hospital, Canada, said:

"Our conclusions have set a new, accessible and affordable standard of care for moderately ill hospitalised COVID-19 patients around the world using a familiar drug. As such the results of the trial can be immediately applied.”

Fellow researcher, haematologist Professor Ryan Zarychanski, of the University of Manitoba, Canada, said: "We had an unprecedented opportunity to work with colleagues across Canada, US and around the world to test the benefit of full-dose blood thinners on hospitalised COVID-19 patients. Therapeutic heparin improved survival and decreased progression to severe disease, thus reducing the pressure on intensive care units globally."

Therapeutic Anticoagulation in Critically Ill Patients with Covid-19 NEJM 4 August 2021

[abstract]

Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses | North America | Pharmaceuticals

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