As part of a national movement to develop treatments and therapies for COVID-19, Intermountain Healthcare researchers are launching a study in Utah to examine the effects of anticoagulants on patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 patients in Utah will be among the first patients in the world enrolled in the study, which is unique as it is one of the first and largest studies focusing on treatments options for patients in the community who have not been hospitalized for the virus.

Intermountain is one of three active sites in the United States participating in the national trial, which is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and is part of Operation Warp Speed, a nationwide public-private partnership examining therapeutics and diagnostics for the COVID-19.

Intermountain researchers are specifically seeking to determine whether a dose of either aspirin or the anticoagulant, apixaban, will prevent the formation of potentially deadly blood clots in patients who are COVID-positive but are not sick enough to be hospitalized.

While the COVID-19 virus is still new, it has been associated with an increase in the development of blood clots in the legs, lungs, and heart, according to Sarah Majercik, MD, a trauma surgeon and primary investigator of the study at Intermountain Healthcare.

Researchers believe coronavirus may cause microthrombi, or tiny clots, in some COVID-19 patients. When these microthrombi are present in the lungs, this could be the reason why some patients who test positive for the virus may develop severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Intermountain researchers hope to enroll several hundred patients in the study, which will run through March 2021. Overall, the NHLBI hopes to enroll 7,000 patients across the country.