How COVID-19 can harm your heart and blood vessel health

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In a new study, researchers suggest that current cardiovascular anti-inflammatory therapies should be used to treat COVID-19 patients that are at risk of, or have developed, heart problems.

They described the different ways COVID-19 can trigger serious inflammatory-related cardiovascular problems and provide clinicians with guidance for treating these issues.

Potential problems with drugs currently being administered to fight this virus are also highlighted.

The research was conducted by leading cardiologists from Beijing, China, who have used their expertise in this area to detail treatment options for these patients.

The risk of pneumonia and respiratory distress in COVID-19 patients is well known, but there is increasing evidence of severe cardiovascular problems associated with the disease.

Inflammation plays an important role in the development and complications of cardiovascular diseases, and researchers have seen that COVID-19 patients with greater signs of an inflammatory response are more likely to suffer serious cardiovascular events and are at greater risk of dying.

By examining current promising COVID-19 treatments as well as cardiovascular anti-inflammatory therapies that have been verified in clinical trials with positive results, the team highlight potentially effective treatments and suggests ongoing anti-inflammatory treatment to aid recovery.

They found that using current knowledge of cardiovascular anti-inflammatory therapies might be of great value in the management of COVID-19.

They recommend referring to this knowledge and experience in clinical practice and conduct related COVID-19 clinical trials.

The researchers warn against using new, pre-clinical drugs for treating COVID-19 because of their unknown efficacy and safety risks.

In addition, the use of certain antiviral drugs, some currently under clinical assessment for treating COVID-19, should be used with caution.

Some drugs currently in use for COVID-19 patients such as lopinavir/ritonavir, interferon-α, ribavirin, azithromycin, and hydroxychloroquine could actually increase the risk of heart impairment.

This study is the first to comprehensively discuss the application of cardiovascular anti-inflammatory treatments for patients severely affected by COVID-19.

The lead author of the study is Professor Shuyang Zhang at the Department of Cardiology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital Beijing, China.

The study is published in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.

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