Blood thinners are medications prescribed to prevent blood clots in patients with a prior blood clot in their lungs or legs. They also prevent blood clots in the brain secondary to abnormal heart rhythms, like atrial fibrillation.
While blood thinners are the standard of treatment in these diseases, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Basel university in Switzerland looked at the data to see if it also helped Covid-19 patients.
The results published in Lancet's Open Access EClinical Medicine showed that patients on blood thinners before having Covid-19 were admitted less often to the hospital, despite being older and having more chronic medical conditions than their peers.
Blood thinners, regardless of if they are being used, before being infected with Covid-19 or started when admitted to the hospital for treatment of Covid-19, reduced deaths by almost half.
Moreover, regardless of the type or dose of the medication used, hospitalised Covid-19 patients benefit from blood thinners, the researchers said.
"Unfortunately, nearly half of the patients who are being prescribed blood thinners for blood clots in their legs, lungs, abnormal heart rhythms or other reasons, do not take them. By increasing adherence for people already prescribed blood thinners, we can potentially reduce the bad effects of Covid-19," said lead author Sameh Hozayen, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Minnesota University's medical school.
"At most centres around the world now, there are protocols for starting blood thinners when patients are first admitted to the hospital for Covid-19, as it is a proven vital treatment option. Outside of Covid-19, the use of blood thinners is proven to be life-saving for those with blood coagulation conditions,"Hozayen added.