Different Anticoagulant Regimens, Mortality, and Bleeding in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: A Systematic Review and an Updated Meta-Analysis

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We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis to assess the association of anticoagulants and their dosage with in-hospital all-cause mortality in COVID-19 patients. Articles were retrieved until January 8, 2021, by searching in seven electronic databases. The main outcome was all-cause mortality occurred during hospitalization. Data were combined using the general variance-based method on the effect estimate for each study. Separate meta-analyses according to type of COVID-19 patients (hospitalized or intensive care unit [ICU] patients), anticoagulants (mainly heparin), and regimens (therapeutic or prophylactic) were conducted. A total of 29 articles were selected, but 23 retrospective studies were eligible for quantitative meta-analyses. No clinical trial was retrieved. The majority of studies were of good quality; however, 34% did not distinguish heparin from other anticoagulants. Meta-analysis on 25,719 hospitalized COVID-19 patients showed that anticoagulant use was associated with 50% reduced in-hospital mortality risk (pooled risk ratio [RR]: 0.50, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.40-0.62; I 2: 87%). Both anticoagulant regimens (therapeutic and prophylactic) reduced in-hospital all-cause mortality, compared with no anticoagulation. Particularly in ICU patients, the anticoagulant therapeutic regimen was associated with a reduced in-hospital mortality risk (RR: 0.30, 95% CI: 0.15-0.60; I 2: 58%) compared with the prophylactic one. However, the former was also associated with a higher risk of bleeding (RR: 2.53, 95% CI: 1.60-4.00; I 2: 65%). Anticoagulant use, mainly heparin, reduced all-cause mortality in COVID-19 patients during hospitalization. Due to the higher risk of bleeding at therapeutic doses, the use of prophylactic dosages of anticoagulant is probably to be preferred in noncritically ill COVID-19 patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-391
Number of pages20
JournalSeminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Anticoagulants/adverse effects
  • COVID-19/drug therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Hemorrhage/mortality
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Survival Rate


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