Intermediate-to-therapeutic versus prophylactic anticoagulation for coagulopathy in hospitalized COVID-19 patients: a systemic review and meta-analysis

Link to article at PubMed

Thromb J. 2021 Nov 24;19(1):91. doi: 10.1186/s12959-021-00343-1.


BACKGROUND: Anticoagulation in hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been associated with survival benefit; however, the optimal anticoagulant strategy has not yet been defined. The objective of this meta-analysis was to investigate the effect of intermediate-to-therapeutic versus prophylactic anticoagulation for thromboprophylaxis on the primary outcome of in-hospital mortality and other patient-centered secondary outcomes in COVID-19 patients.

METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases were searched from inception to August 10th 2021. Cohort studies and randomized clinical trials that assessed the efficacy and safety of intermediate-to-therapeutic versus prophylactic anticoagulation in hospitalized COVID-19 patients were included. Baseline characteristics and relevant data of each study were extracted in a pre-designed standardized data-collection form. The primary outcome was all-cause in-hospital mortality and the secondary outcomes were incidence of thrombotic events and incidence of any bleeding and major bleeding. Pooled analysis with random effects models yielded relative risk with 95 % CIs.

RESULTS: This meta-analysis included 42 studies with 28,055 in-hospital COVID-19 patients totally. Our pooled analysis demonstrated that intermediate-to-therapeutic anticoagulation was not associated with lower in-hospital mortality (RR=1.12, 95 %CI 0.99-1.25, p=0.06, I2=77 %) and lower incidence of thrombotic events (RR=1.30, 95 %CI 0.79-2.15, p=0.30, I2=88 %), but increased the risk of any bleeding events (RR=2.16, 95 %CI 1.79-2.60, p<0.01, I2=31 %) and major bleeding events significantly (RR=2.10, 95 %CI 1.77-2.51, p<0.01, I2=11 %) versus prophylactic anticoagulation. Moreover, intermediate-to-therapeutic anticoagulation decreased the incidence of thrombotic events (RR=0.71, 95 %CI 0.56-0.89, p=0.003, I2=0 %) among critically ill COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU), with increased bleeding risk (RR=1.66, 95 %CI 1.37-2.00, p<0.01, I2=0 %) and unchanged in-hospital mortality (RR=0.94, 95 %CI 0.79-1.10, p=0.42, I2=30 %) in such patients. The Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation certainty of evidence ranged from very low to moderate.

CONCLUSIONS: We recommend the use of prophylactic anticoagulation against intermediate-to-therapeutic anticoagulation among unselected hospitalized COVID-19 patients considering insignificant survival benefits but higher risk of bleeding in the escalated thromboprophylaxis strategy. For critically ill COVID-19 patients, the benefits of intermediate-to-therapeutic anticoagulation in reducing thrombotic events should be weighed cautiously because of its association with higher risk of bleeding.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The protocol was registered at PROSPERO on August 17th 2021 ( CRD42021273780 ).

PMID:34819094 | DOI:10.1186/s12959-021-00343-1

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