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Potential benefits of heart medications in high-risk COVID-19 patients


When the COVID-19 pandemic started in spring 2020, the researchers observed that patients affected by a COVID-19 respiratory infection could develop harmful complications to their lungs and heart, putting them at increased risk for hospitalization, needing a ventilator and death. This project, supported by IDRC, investigated the potential benefit of renin-angiotensin system inhibitors (RASi), a class of heart medications that are regularly used to treat high blood pressure, to help decrease the risk of complications in people with a COVID-19 infection.

With the emergence of virus variants and the development of vaccines, the trial adapted to the pandemic’s evolution. Early in the pandemic, most people who developed complications were elderly with risk factors for heart disease or with compromised immunity due to other conditions. The researchers’ main goal was to treat COVID-19 and the related short-term complications. However, given the high incidence of long-term symptoms after a COVID infection, the clinical trial evolved to assess the long-term consequences related to COVID and its treatment. The study team continues to follow up with study participants to find answers regarding the long-term impact of COVID and the changes experienced in their quality of life.

For this project, the study investigators collaborated with scientists in North and South America during the multiple waves of the pandemic and after vaccination campaigns. The project also recently joined a COVID-19 consortium of investigators and scientists from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to combine data and draw conclusions on population outcomes. This collaboration with participating sites in South America will contribute to making a global contribution in treating this new and evolving disease and help the researchers improve their understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on long-term health.