Hospitalized coronavirus patients who consume aspirin on a daily basis to protect against cardiovascular disease were found to have significantly lower risk of complications and death compared to those who weren’t taking the drug, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The research, which was published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, also discovered that individuals regularly taking aspirin were also less likely to be placed in the intensive care unit or hooked up to a mechanical ventilator.
“This is a critical finding that needs to be confirmed through a randomized clinical trial,” the study’s lead author Dr. Jonathan Chow said in a news 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.”
In settling on the study’s conclusions, the research team examined medical records of some 400 patients who were hospitalized due to complications from the novel coronavirus. The average age of all of the patients was fifty-five and their preexisting conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, were accounted for in the study.
About a quarter of the patients were taking a daily low-dose aspirin (usually eighty-one milligrams) before they were admitted to a hospital or right after admission to help manage their cardiovascular disease.
What the researchers eventually found was that aspirin use was associated with a 44-percent reduction in the risk of being put on a mechanical ventilator, a 43-percent decrease in ICU admission, and a 47-percent reduction in the risk of death.
Patients taking the aspirin also experienced less adverse events, such as major bleeding, while being hospitalized.
Doctors often recommend consuming low-dose aspirin daily for individuals who have previously had a heart attack or stroke caused by a blood clot.
“We believe that the blood thinning effects of aspirin provides benefits for COVID-19 patients by preventing microclot formation,” the study’s co-author Dr. Michael Mazzeffi said in a release. “Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 may want to consider taking a daily aspirin as long as they check with their doctor first.”
The researchers added that those with an increased bleeding risk due to chronic kidney disease or from other medications they take may not be able to safely take aspirin on a regular basis.
“This study adds to the tremendous work our researchers are doing in the School of Medicine to help find new treatments against COVID-19 and save patients’ lives,” Dr. E. Albert Reece, executive vice president for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, said in a release.
“While confirmatory studies are needed to prove that aspirin use leads to better outcomes in COVID-19, the evidence thus far suggests that patients may want to discuss with their doctor whether it is safe for them to take aspirin to manage potentially serious complications.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.
Image: North Dakota Army National Guard deputy state surgeon Col. Brian Keller wears a UVEX face shield and 3M N95 protective mask as he watches a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site inside the Bismarck Event Center, as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in Bismarck, North Dakota, U.S., October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan