Study suggests aspirin may help lower risk of death from severe COVID-19 complications

·3-min read

COVID-19 infection affects different people differently; while some people do not present with any symptoms, others may experience severe complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pneumonia, septic shock, abnormal blood clotting and multiple organ failure, among others. Abnormal coagulation of blood can allow these blood clots to get lodged into the lungs, brain or heart, resulting in severe consequences and even death.

Doctors have been using various medications such as blood thinners and tissue plasminogen activator to resolve the blood clots. However, these medications may have some side effects.

Recently, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine have stated that the intake of aspirin, a well-known drug with a satisfactory safety profile, can help reduce the risk of death in people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 infection.

The effect of aspirin

In the recent study published in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia on 21 October 2020, scientists collected the data of 412 patients, with an average age of 55 years, who were hospitalised at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and three other hospitals along the East Coast in the United States between March 2020 and July 2020.

One-fourth of these patients had taken daily low-dose aspirin (around 81 milligrammes) to manage their cardiovascular disease either seven days prior to their admission or within the 24 hours after their admission to the hospital. This means that out of 412 patients, 314 patients did not receive aspirin, while 98 patients were given low doses of aspirin.

Reduced risk of death

Before analysing the results, the scientists took several factors such as age, gender, and body mass index into account. The researchers also included pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and liver disease.

The results of the study showed that:

  1. The risk of requiring mechanical ventilation for breathing difficulty was 35.7 percent in patients who took aspirin while it was 48.4 percent in non-aspirin patients.

  2. The risk of getting admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) was 38.8 percent in patients who took aspirin while it was 51.0 percent in non-aspirin patients.

Surprisingly, the results further showed that the intake of aspirin was associated with a 47 percent less risk of in-hospital death as compared to those who were not taking aspirin.

Preventing severe COVID-19 complications

With this study, scientists concluded that this inexpensive, accessible medication can help in preventing severe complications. Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties, which may have protective effects on the lungs during COVID-19 infection.

Scientists stated that aspirin can reduce the production of immune cells such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and macrophages in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease. This can help in reducing the incidence of a cytokine storm.

However, further research is needed to confirm the relationship between the use of aspirin and its effect on lung injury and deaths related to COVID-19 infection.

For more information, read our article on Aspirin.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India's first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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