Aspirin may help COVID patients avoid ventilator, lowers risk of death

WASHINGTON — With the rise in COVID-19 cases, many may be able to prevent severe infection and potential death by taking low dose aspirin. In a study led by researchers at George Washington University, aspirin worked to protect the lungs of COVID-19 patients. Researchers say the drug may minimize the requirement for mechanical ventilation and admission to the ICU, as well as help reduce the number of deaths due to coronavirus.

The study includes data from GW Hospital patients, as well as those from the University of Maryland Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Health System, and other hospitals spanning the country. More than 400 COVID patients were included in the study, all of who were admitted to the hospital between March and July of 2020. Comorbidities and other risk factors including patient demographics were accounted for.

Results show those who used aspirin had a 44% lower risk of having to be ventilated, as well as a 43% lower risk of ICU admission. Moreover, the mortality rate of those in the hospital was reduced by 47%. Aspirin users and non-aspirin users had no significant variations in severe bleeding or apparent thrombosis.

“As we learned about the connection between blood clots and COVID-19, we knew that aspirin – used to prevent stroke and heart attack – could be important for COVID-19 patients,” says Dr. Jonathan Chow, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, in a statement. Chow is also the director of the Critical Care Anesthesiology Fellowship at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“Our research found an association between low dose aspirin and decreased severity of COVID-19 and death,” he adds.

Earlier studies that also point to “lung protecting” benefits of aspirin were released in the fall of 2020. Other investigations have now validated the role of aspirin in avoiding infection as well as lowering the risk of severe COVID-19 and mortality. Chow believes that this study will lead to additional research into whether aspirin use and decreased lung damage in COVID-19 patients have a statistical correlation.

Aspirin is low cost, easily accessible and millions are already using it to treat their health conditions,” said Chow. “Finding this association is a huge win for those looking to reduce risk from some of the most devastating effects of COVID-19.”

 This study is published in Anesthesia & Analgesia.