Empiric Therapeutic Anticoagulation and Mortality in Critically Ill Patients With Respiratory Failure From SARS-CoV-2: A Retrospective Cohort Study

J Clin Pharmacol. 2020 Nov;60(11):1411-1415. doi: 10.1002/jcph.1749. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


The pathophysiology of respiratory failure associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) remains under investigation. One hypothesis is that progressive endothelial damage from the virus leads to microvascular thrombosis. It is uncertain if empiric therapeutic anticoagulation provides benefit over standard deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis in critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2. A retrospective cohort study was performed to evaluate adult patients admitted to the intensive care unit at 3 hospitals with polymerase chain reaction-confirmed SARS-CoV-2-associated respiratory failure requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to compare patients who were initiated on therapeutic anticoagulation prior to the time of intubation and those receiving standard DVT prophylaxis doses. The primary outcome was the difference in the 28-day mortality of patients between the 2 groups. Twenty-eight-day mortality did not differ between groups, occurring in 26.1% of patients who received therapeutic anticoagulation and 29.5% of those who received a prophylactic dose only (hazard ratio, 0.52; P = .055). There was no difference in 28-day mortality between groups in patients who were admitted with a serum D-dimer ≥ 2 µg/mL (hazard ratio, 0.67; P = .41). Empiric therapeutic anticoagulation in patients who require invasive mechanical ventilation for confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection does not improve 28-day mortality compared with standard DVT prophylaxis, even among those with elevated D-dimer levels.

Keywords: ARDS; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; therapeutic anticoagulation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • COVID-19
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Critical Illness / mortality*
  • Female
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products / analysis
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis


  • Anticoagulants
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products
  • fibrin fragment D