Aspirin Use May Decrease Ventilation, ICU Admission and Death in COVID-19 Patients

GW researchers found that aspirin may have lung-protective effects and reduce in-hospital mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

March 25, 2021

George Washington University researchers found low dose aspirin may reduce the need for mechanical ventilation, ICU admission and in-hospital mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to a new study.

“As we learned about the connection between blood clots and COVID-19, we knew that aspirin—used to prevent stroke and heart attack—could be important for COVID-19 patients,” said Jonathan Chow, assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and director of the Critical Care Anesthesiology Fellowship at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Our research found an association between low dose aspirin and decreased severity of COVID-19 and death.” 

More than 400 patients hospitalized from March to July 2020 around the United States were included in the study, including patients admitted to GW Hospital, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Northeast Georgia Health System.

After adjusting for demographics and comorbidities, aspirin use was associated with a decreased risk of mechanical ventilation (44% reduction), ICU admission (43% reduction) and in-hospital mortality (47% reduction). There were no differences in major bleeding or overt thrombosis between aspirin users and non-aspirin users.

Preliminary findings were first published as a preprint in fall 2020. Since then, other studies have confirmed the impact aspirin can have on both preventing infection and reducing risk for severe COVID-19 and death. Dr. Chow hopes this study leads to more research on whether a causal relationship exists between aspirin use and reduced lung injury in COVID-19 patients.

“Aspirin is low cost, easily accessible and millions are already using it to treat their health conditions,” Dr. Chow said. “Finding this association is a huge win for those looking to reduce risk from some of the most devastating effects of COVID-19.” 

In addition to Dr. Chow, study authors include David Yamane, assistant professor of emergency medicine and anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the SMHS; Ivy Benjenk, lead research coordinator for the department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at GW Hospital; and Shannon Cain, a third-year resident in the department of emergency medicine at SMHS; as well as researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Northeast Georgia Health System.

The study was published in Anesthesia & Analgesia on March 17. 

COVID-19