CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston is set to take part in a COVID-19 treatment trial looking to see if blood thinners combined with another drug can help save critically-ill patients.
Several other VAs and universities across the country are participating in the trial. In Charleston, one of the co-investigators is Dr. Terrill Huggins.
“What we know is patients who are critically ill who are admitted to hospitals, an inpatient setting, or admitted to the intensive care unit have a higher risk of developing blood clots," Huggins said. "COVID-19 pneumonia is not an exception to that. It may actually increase the risk of patients developing blood clots.”
The VA may start accepting patients for this trial later this month or at the beginning of December as they work to determine the safety of using higher doses of blood thinners in those patients. The blood thinners to be used are Heparin and Lovenox.
Some patients will be given those drugs in combination with an antiplatelet drug called Plavix which works to make it harder for blood clots to form. Other patients will just get the placebo.
Once admitted to the trial, patients would be monitored during their time at the hospital. After two weeks, doctors would perform an ultrasound on their legs to determine if they have blood clots.
“All critically-ill patients if there’s not a contrary indication to giving blood thinners that has been routine standard practice regardless of COVID or not just because those patients don’t have the ability to mobilize easily,” Huggins said. “The idea here is using higher doses of blood thinners as well as using combination of platelet therapy in treating COVID-19.”
The results of the trial could be known as early as next Fall, Huggins said. “If we proves it works, this will be standard therapy.”
This is now the second treatment trial underway at the VA. The first started earlier this year and is looking to prevent the virus from getting into patients’ lungs.