University of Minnesota Medical School researchers determined that the common blood pressure medication, losartan, is not effective in reducing hospitalization for mildly-ill COVID-19 outpatients.
In the multicenter, randomized, double-blinded clinical trial, non-hospitalized patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19 were given either losartan or a placebo and monitored for 15 days. The study’s results, which were published in EClinicalMedicine, showed that although losartan does not reduce the likelihood of hospitalization, the medication does not appear to worsen symptoms of COVID-19 or have any significant or harmful side effects on patients with mild COVID-19.
“Based on our results, there is no benefit to starting losartan for newly diagnosed outpatients with COVID-19, but those who are already taking the medication for pre-existing health conditions should feel safe continuing it,” said Michael Puskarich, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the U of M Medical School and co-principal investigator of this study. He is also an emergency physician at Hennepin Healthcare.
Conflicting hypotheses since the start of the pandemic led this research team to investigate losartan as a potential treatment option. While some experts believed drugs like losartan may reduce inflammation and help those infected recover, others worried that the drug could worsen COVID-19 symptoms.
“Given SARS-CoV-2 binding with ACE2 there has been significant research interest into the utility of ACE and AT1R blocking agents to combat COVID-19. This study provides insight that for patients with mild COVID-19, who do not require hospital admission, that there is no benefit or harm from such agents,” said co-principal investigator Christopher Tignanelli, MD, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the U of M Medical School and critical care surgeon with M Health Fairview.
The same team has been working on another trial for inpatients to evaluate if losartan prevents lung injury in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. They have completed enrollment and are currently analyzing the data.
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