Study: Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

October 28th 2020
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor

Aspirin takers were less likely to be placed in the ICU or hooked up to a mechanical ventilator and were more likely to survive the infection compared with hospitalized patients who were not taking aspirin.

A new study from researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) found that hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease had a significantly lower risk of complications and death compared with those who were not taking aspirin.

Further, aspirin takers were less likely to be placed in the ICU or hooked up to a mechanical ventilator and were more likely to survive the infection compared with hospitalized patients who were not taking aspirin.

"This is a critical finding that needs to be confirmed through a randomized clinical trial," said study leader Jonathan Chow, MD, assistant professor of Anesthesiology at UMSOM in a press release. "If our finding is confirmed, it would make aspirin the first widely available, over-the-counter medication to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients."

Chow and his colleagues went through medical records of 412 COVID-19 patients with an average age of 55 years who were hospitalized over the past few months due to complications of their infection. The patients were treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and 3 other hospitals along the East Coast. Approximately one-quarter of the patients taking a daily low-dose aspirin before they were admitted or right after admission to manage their cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found aspirin use was associated with a 44% reduction in the risk of being put on a mechanical ventilator, a 43% decrease in the risk of ICU admission, and a 47% decrease in the risk of dying in the hospital compared with those who were not taking aspirin. The patients in the aspirin group did not experience a significant increase in adverse events, such as major bleeding while hospitalized, according to the study.

Several factors may have contributed to the patients’ prognosis, including age, gender, body mass index, race, hypertension, and diabetes, also accounting for heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and the use of beta blockers to control blood pressure.

Although physicians often recommend a daily low-dose aspirin for patients who have previously had a heart attack or stroke caused by a blood clot to prevent future blood clots, daily use can increase the risk of major bleeding or peptic ulcer disease, according to the study.

"We believe that the blood thinning effects of aspirin provides benefits for COVID-19 patients by preventing microclot formation," said study co-author Michael A. Mazzeffi, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology at UMSOM, in a press release. "Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 may want to consider taking a daily aspirin as long as they check with their doctor first.”

Further studies are needed to prove that aspirin use leads to better outcomes in COVID-19, but the evidence from this study suggests that patients may want to discuss with their physician whether it is safe for them to take aspirin to manage potentially prevent serious complications, according to the study authors.

REFERENCE

New study: aspirin use reduces risk of death in hospitalized patients. EurekAlert! Published October 22, 2020. Accessed October 23, 2020.

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