Heparins and 2019-nCoV infection: a narrative review

Link to article at PubMed

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2021 May;25(9):3594-3606. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202105_25842.


OBJECTIVE: Patients with 2019-nCoV infection have a high risk to develop venous thrombotic events. Several guidelines recommend the use of either unfractionated heparin or low molecular weight heparins in preventing thrombotic events in these patients. However, results from clinical studies, so far published, reached controversial conclusions on heparin efficacy in this kind of patients since the incidence of venous thromboembolism remains high despite prophylaxis. This narrative review aims to provide an overview of the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of heparins and their efficacy and safety in SARS-CoV-2 medical ward-patients. Moreover, anatomical findings and ongoing trials are also reported. Finally, this narrative review tries to explain why heparins fail to prevent venous thrombosis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We searched for the most relevant published studies on heparins and 2019-nCoV infected patients using the MEDLINE electronic database in the period between January and December 2020. Articles were preliminarily defined as eligible if they: a) were in English language, b) enrolled 250 or more medical ward-patients and 100 or more ICU-patients, c) reported results on patients treated with heparins in a percentage of at least 70% and d) performed an objectively confirmed diagnosis of VTE.

RESULTS: Data from medium to large scientific studies show that the incidence of venous thrombotic events in medical ward-patients with SARS-CoV-2 vary between 0% and 8.3%, while this rate is higher, from 6.2% to 49%, in Intensive Care Unit-patients. However, heparins reduce the mortality rate in these patients of about 50%. Histological findings show that thrombosis could affect capillaries, main and small-mid-sized vessels, and it is associated with diffuse alveolar damage.

CONCLUSIONS: Heparins have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, which may be of help in reducing mortality in SARS-CoV-2 patients. Failure of heparins at prophylactic dosages in preventing VTE, especially in ICU-patients, could be due to the severity of the disease. Data on the use of heparins in an early phase of the 2019-nCoV infection are still lacking.

PMID:34002834 | DOI:10.26355/eurrev_202105_25842

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