Heparin for Moderately Ill Patients with Covid-19

medRxiv. 2021 Jul 12;2021.07.08.21259351. doi: 10.1101/2021.07.08.21259351. Preprint


Background: Heparin, in addition to its anticoagulant properties, has anti-inflammatory and potential anti-viral effects, and may improve endothelial function in patients with Covid-19. Early initiation of therapeutic heparin could decrease the thrombo-inflammatory process, and reduce the risk of critical illness or death.

Methods: We randomly assigned moderately ill hospitalized ward patients admitted for Covid-19 with elevated D-dimer level to therapeutic or prophylactic heparin. The primary outcome was a composite of death, invasive mechanical ventilation, non-invasive mechanical ventilation or ICU admission. Safety outcomes included major bleeding. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.

Results: At 28 days, the primary composite outcome occurred in 37 of 228 patients (16.2%) assigned to therapeutic heparin, and 52 of 237 patients (21.9%) assigned to prophylactic heparin (odds ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43 to 1.10; p=0.12). Four patients (1.8%) assigned to therapeutic heparin died compared with 18 patients (7.6%) assigned to prophylactic heparin (odds ratio, 0.22; 95%-CI, 0.07 to 0.65). The composite of all-cause mortality or any mechanical ventilation occurred in 23 (10.1%) in the therapeutic heparin group and 38 (16.0%) in the prophylactic heparin group (odds ratio, 0.59; 95%-CI, 0.34 to 1.02). Major bleeding occurred in 2 patients (0.9%) with therapeutic heparin and 4 patients (1.7%) with prophylactic heparin (odds ratio, 0.52; 95%-CI, 0.09 to 2.85).

Conclusions: In moderately ill ward patients with Covid-19 and elevated D-dimer level, therapeutic heparin did not significantly reduce the primary outcome but decreased the odds of death at 28 days. Trial registration numbers: NCT04362085 ; NCT04444700.

Publication types

  • Preprint

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04362085
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04444700