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Study Led By Winnipeg Doctor Shows Blood-Thinner Can Keep COVID-19 Patients Out Of ICU

A game-changing global study led by a Winnipeg physician has found that treating some hospitalized COVID-19 patients with blood thinners increases their chance of survival and reduces their need for intensive care.

The study looked at the effects of heparin, a generic blood thinner, in moderately and severely ill COVID-19 patients in nine countries. The research shows that the blood thinner helps moderately ill patients, but is harmful and should not be used in patients who are already on life-support. In patients who don't yet need ICU care — receiving at most, supplemental oxygen — heparin helps to prevent serious blood-clot-related complications of COVID-19, such as thrombosis and organ failure, the new research shows.

The conclusion: blood thinners could reduce the need for ICU care in roughly 30 per cent of moderately ill patients.

Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, a Winnipeg hematologist, critical care physician and associate professor of internal medicine, University of Manitoba, is a senior author of the studies, which were published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The results shows it's safe to give heparin to moderately ill COVID-19 patients. The findings are expected to quickly change the way COVID-19 patients are treated at the bedside because the medication is affordable and accessible. The results were announced in a livestreamed online broadcast Wednesday.

-Winnipeg Free Press