Aggressive Anticoagulation May Decrease Mortality in Obese Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients

Obes Surg. 2021 Nov 24;1-7. doi: 10.1007/s11695-021-05799-8. Online ahead of print.


Background: Obesity is a widely accepted risk factor for the development of severe COVID-19. We sought to determine the survival benefit of early initiation of aggressive anticoagulation in obese critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 237 intubated patients at a single academic accredited bariatric center and stratified them based on their BMI into 2 groups, obese (BMI > 30) and non-obese (BMI ≤ 30). We used chi-square tests to compare categorical variables such as age and sex, and two-sample t-tests or Mann Whitney U-tests for continuous variables, including important laboratory values. Cox proportional-hazards regression models were utilized to determine whether obesity was an independent predictor of survival and multivariable analysis was performed to compare risk factors that were deemed significant in the univariable analysis. Survival with respect to BMI and its association with level of anticoagulation in the obese cohort was evaluated using Kaplan-Meier models.

Results: The overall mortality in the obese and non-obese groups was similar at 47% and 44%, respectively (p = 0.65). Further analysis based on the level of AC showed that obese patients placed on early aggressive AC protocol had improved survival compared to obese patients who did not receive protocol based aggressive AC (ON-aggressive AC protocol 26% versus OFF-aggressive AC protocol 61%, p = 0.0004).

Conclusions: The implementation of early aggressive anticoagulation may balance the negative effects of obesity on the overall mortality in critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Body mass index (BMI); COVID-19; Coronavirus; Critically ill; Enoxaparin; Heparin; Mechanical ventilation; Obesity.