Several common cardiovascular drugs are being studied as potential COVID-19 treatments, with early findings suggesting they pose no increased risks for patients taking them regularly.
Several studies are being conducted for losartan, a popular high blood pressure drug, including two trials at the University of Minnesota. Researchers at the university are studying the drug to see if it can help prevent lung injury in recently diagnosed patients and are currently enrolling patients in two studies. One, a 200-person trial, is studying the efficacy of the drug in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, while the other, a 580-person study, is evaluating its ability to prevent hospitalization in infected patients.
A small University of Hawaii pilot trial of 40 COVID-19 patients is testing telmisartan, a high blood pressure drug, to see if it reduces disease severity. The study has not yet begun enrolling patients.
Amarin’s fish oil heart drug Vascepa (icosapent ethyl) is also being studied. The company is supporting a Canadian pilot trial of the medicine to gauge if it can mitigate the severity of disease in COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Failure Society of America had raised concerns that blood pressure drugs could increase the risk of COVID-19 infection in patients.
But the NYU Grossman School of Medicine last month reported results from a 12,594-patient study of common high blood pressure drugs — ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers and thiazide diuretics — finding that the drugs did not increase the risk of either contracting COVID-19 or of worsening the infection.
“Our findings should reassure the medical community and patients about the continued use of these commonly prescribed medications,” said Harmony Reynolds, lead investigator and associate director of NYU Langone Health’s Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center.
Similarly, a large Italian study involving 6,272 COVID-19 patients found that while the use of ACE inhibitors and ARBs was more frequent among infected patients due to their higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease, it found no evidence that the use of ARBs and ACE inhibitors affected the risk of COVID-19. — James Miessler