McLaren Center for Research and Innovation contributes to new COVID-19 standard of care

Mark Zainea

The McLaren Center for Research and Innovation organized the participation of three Michigan-based McLaren Health Care hospitals in a nationwide clinical trial that resulted in a new standard of care for patients with severe COVID-19 to avoid dangerous blood clots. A comprehensive program facilitating McLaren Health Care’s participation in clinical trials, the McLaren Center for Research and Innovation began its participation in the COVID-PACT study in November 2020, resulting in its outcomes being published in September.

Published in Circulation, the medical journal of the American Heart Association, results from COVID-PACT will guide the future of care for critically ill ICU patients with severe COVID-19, setting a new standard of care for other physicians to follow when treating this patient population.

A nationwide study comprising 34 sites and 390 patients, cardiologist Dr. Mark Zainea, at McLaren Macomb in Mount Clemens, led McLaren’s participation in COVID-PACT and was listed among the published study’s authors. Also included were internist Dr. Elizabeth Pionk and vascular surgeon Dr. Nicolas Mouawad at McLaren Bay Region in Bay City, and pulmonologist Dr. Chintalapudi Kumar at McLaren Greater Lansing.

The published study demonstrated a 44 to 45 percent reduction in the development of potentially dangerous blood clots.

“Blood clots have been some of the most harmful and impactful side effects of a COVID-19 diagnosis, causing endless damage to the patient even after they’ve initially recovered from the virus,” Dr. Zainea said. “As we started to learn more about how to treat this virus, addressing the risk for developing blood clots was an initial concern. To be part of the nationwide effort to develop a treatment has been an incredibly rewarding process for all of us.”

The critically ill patients who qualified for the trial were those who were hospitalized in an intensive care unit with severe COVID-19. Patients were treated with high-flow supplemental oxygen to address their low blood-oxygen levels, though they were still at risk for the development of potentially life-threatening blood clots, further lowering their blood oxygen levels and increasing the risk for additional health complications.

The aim of the study was to determine the benefit and impact of anticoagulant medications on the ultimate recovery of these patients. Those enrolled in the trial were given either a standard dose of the anticoagulant medication heparin with or without the addition of the anticoagulant and antiplatelet medication clopidogrel. Others were given a full dose of heparin, also with or without the addition of clopidogrel.

All enrolled patients were provided with one of these forms of therapy.

Of those 390 patients, 16 were enrolled from McLaren facilities around the state.

The peer-reviewed results of this randomized-controlled study demonstrated a significant benefit of a therapy with a full dose of heparin without the addition of clopidogrel in the recovery of patients previously experiencing severe COVID-19.