Could Treatments that Decrease Blood Viscosity Reduce Mortality Rate in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients?

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) is characterized by a dysfunctional immune response and abnormal blood rheology that contribute to endothelial dysfunction and thrombotic complications. Whole blood viscosity (WBV) is a clinically validated measure of blood rheology and an established predictor of cardiovascular risk. We hypothesize that increased WBV is associated with mortality among patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

OBJECTIVES: This study sought to determine the association between estimated BV (eBV) and mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

METHODS: The study population included 5,621 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the Mount Sinai Health System from February 27, 2020, to November 27, 2021. eBV was calculated using the Walburn-Schneck model. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the association between eBV and mortality. Considered covariates included age, sex, race, cardiovascular and metabolic comorbidities, in-house pharmacotherapy, and baseline inflammatory biomarkers.

RESULTS: Estimated high-shear BV (eHSBV) and estimated low-shear BV were associated with increased in-hospital mortality. One-centipoise increases in eHSBV and estimated low-shear BV were associated with a 36.0% and 7.0% increase in death, respectively (P < 0.001). Compared with participants in the lowest quartile of eHSBV, those in the highest quartile of eHSBV had higher mortality (adjusted HR: 1.53; 95% CI: 1.27-1.84). The association was consistent among multiple subgroups, notably among patients without any comorbidities (adjusted HR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.28-2.22).

CONCLUSIONS: Among hospitalized COVID-19 patients, increased eBV is significantly associated with higher mortality. This suggests that eBV can prognosticate patient outcomes in earlier stages of COVID-19, and that future therapeutics aimed at reducing WBV should be evaluated.

Wang YJ, et al. Association of Blood Viscosity With Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2022 Jul 26; 80(4): 316–328.