Low-dose aspirin could help keep coronavirus patients off of ventilators, decrease their chances of requiring admission to the intensive care unit and lower the risk of in-hospital death, according to the findings of a new study.
Researchers with George Washington University in a study published last week in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia found that the affordable and readily available drug likely prevents small blood clots, ultimately protecting COVID-19 patients’ lungs, they said.
For the study, the team looked at the medical records of more than 400 patients who were admitted to GW Hospital, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, or Northeast Georgia Health System between March and July 2020. Some of the patients (about 24%) received aspirin within the first day of their admission to one of the hospitals or had taken it in the seven days before they were admitted. About 76% did not take aspirin in the study.
After adjusting for several factors, the team found that aspirin was associated with a 44% decreased risk of ventilation, a 43% decreased risk of ICU admission, and a 47% reduction in in-hospital mortality.
Additionally, "there were no differences in major bleeding or overt thrombosis between aspirin users and non-aspirin users," reads a news release on the findings.
"As we learned about the connection between blood clots and COVID-19, we knew that aspirin – used to prevent stroke and heart attack – could be important for COVID-19 patients," Dr. Jonathan Chow, assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and director of the Critical Care Anesthesiology Fellowship at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said in a statement. "Our research found an association between low dose aspirin and decreased severity of COVID-19 and death."
That said, the study was observational, meaning one group was not purposefully given aspirin while another was given a placebo.
Still, the findings are in line with other research on the topic. In a study published last month in PLOS One that involved some 30,000 U.S. veterans, researchers also found a significantly reduced risk of death from the novel virus in those who were already taking daily aspirin compared to those who did not.
"Aspirin is a low cost, easily accessible and millions are already using it to treat their health conditions," he added. "Finding this association is a huge win for those looking to reduce risk from some of the most devastating effects of COVID-19."