A clinical trial carried out in the Jessa Hospital in Hasselt has reported a cut in the number of people who died in intensive care by 90% when using a modified treatment protocol. And surviving patients were less likely to suffer from potentially deadly blood clots in the veins and lungs, as well as needing 24-hour kidney dialysis.
Covid-19 causes mainly respiratory problems, from the first symptoms including a persistent cough and trouble breathing, to the end stage when the patient is unconscious requiring a respirator to breathe.
A secondary problem, meanwhile, is blood clots in the lungs (PE) or in the veins of the body (DVT), which can migrate to other parts of the body, leading to heart failure or stroke, depending on where they end up.
The study, led by the intensive care specialist Professor Björn Stessel, looked at patients with pneumonia associated with Covid-19 who were admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) over a period of more than a month in March/April.
Those patients were subjected to doses of heparin, a drug that thins the blood and is commonly used to combat clotting, as well as ultrasound screening for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The main point of the trial was to see how many patients survived to the end of one month in ICU. Those who did were checked for DVT or PE, for damage to the kidneys and for the need for continuous kidney dialysis.
Their results were compared with a control group of patients treated according to conventional protocols.
Compared to the control group, deaths at the end of one month among the patients in the study group were cut from 39.13% to 3.85%, a reduction of more than 90%. The incidences of blood clots in the veins or lungs – 41% in the control group – dropped to 15%. And the incidence of continuous kidney dialysis fell from 30.4% to 3.8%.