Daily use of aspirin can lower the risk of COVID-19 death, study finds

A new study reveals that patients hospitalized for COVID-19 that take aspirin daily (low dosage) have a lower risk of developing complications that arise from the coronavirus, thereby lowering the risk of death. This study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine by observing 412 COVID-19 patients (average age 55). These patients were hospitalized at the University of Maryland Medical Center and three other hospitals on the East Coast.

The study found that patients that took this daily dose of aspirin were also less likely to be put into an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and also less likely to require help breathing from a ventilator. The study was published Thursday in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia. The study’s significance lies in the fact that common medications could help safely lower the risk of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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

About 25% of the observed patients were already taking daily dosages of aspirin, or just began taking it right after hospitalization, to manage their cardiovascular conditions. The study found that the patients that took aspirin were 44% less likely to be placed in an ICE, 44% less likely to require a mechanical ventilator, and 47% less likely to die due to serious COVID-19 complications. This data is in comparison to patients that were not taking daily dosages of aspirin.

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Study co-author Dr. Michael A. Mazzeffi notes that specific sets of people, such as those with chronic kidney disease, may not be able to take daily dosages of aspirin. “Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 may want to consider taking a daily aspirin as long as they check with their doctor first, ” he said. There have been multiple studies and guidelines in the past that have advised against taking low-dose aspirin to prevent strokes, heart attacks, and other heart-related conditions. It is important to always first check with your doctor and not self-medicate.

On Thursday, remdesivir was also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first antiviral treatment for COVID-19 (age 12+).

“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. “Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 may want to consider taking a daily aspirin as long as they check with their doctor first,” MedicalXpress reports. Those at increased bleeding risk due to chronic kidney disease, for example, or because they regularly use certain medications, like steroids or blood thinners, may not be able to safely take aspirin, he added.

“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,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “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.”

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