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Rentsch CT, Beckman JA, Tomlinson L, Gellad WF, Alcorn C, Kidwai-Khan F, Skanderson M, Brittain E, King JT, Ho YL, Eden S, Kundu S, Lann MF, Greevy RA, Ho PM, Heidenreich PA, Jacobson DA, Douglas IJ, Tate JP, Evans SJ, Atkins D, Justice AC, Freiberg MS. Early initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation for prevention of COVID-19 mortality: a nationwide cohort study of hospitalized patients in the United States. medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences [Preprint]. 2020 Dec 11.
Importance: Deaths among patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are partially attributed to venous thromboembolism and arterial thromboses. Anticoagulants prevent thrombosis formation, possess anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, and may be particularly effective for treating patients with COVID-19. Objective: To evaluate whether initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation within 24 hours of admission is associated with decreased risk of death among patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Design: Observational cohort study. Setting: Nationwide cohort of patients receiving care in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States. Participants: All patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection March 1 to July 31, 2020, without a history of therapeutic anticoagulation. Exposures: Prophylactic doses of subcutaneous heparin, low-molecular-weight heparin, or direct oral anticoagulants. Main Outcomes and Measures: 30-day mortality. Secondary outcomes: inpatient mortality and initiating therapeutic anticoagulation. Results: Of 4,297 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 3,627 (84.4%) received prophylactic anticoagulation within 24 hours of admission. More than 99% (n = 3,600) received subcutaneous heparin or enoxaparin. We observed 622 deaths within 30 days of admission, 513 among those who received prophylactic anticoagulation. Most deaths (510/622, 82%) occurred during hospitalization. In inverse probability of treatment weighted analyses, cumulative adjusted incidence of mortality at 30 days was 14.3% (95% CI 13.1-15.5) among those receiving prophylactic anticoagulation and 18.7% (95% CI 15.1-22.9) among those who did not. Compared to patients who did not receive prophylactic anticoagulation, those who did had a 27% decreased risk for 30-day mortality (HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.66-0.81). Similar associations were found for inpatient mortality and initiating therapeutic anticoagulation. Quantitative bias analysis demonstrated that results were robust to unmeasured confounding (e-value lower 95% CI 1.77). Results persisted in a number of sensitivity analyses. Conclusions and Relevance: Early initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 was associated with a decreased risk of mortality. These findings provide strong real-world evidence to support guidelines recommending the use of prophylactic anticoagulation as initial therapy for COVID-19 patients upon hospital admission.