Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Drugs Touted by Trump for COVID-19 Increase Heart Risks, Studies Find

Health + Wellness
A pack of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate medication is held up on March 26, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. John Phillips / Getty Images

Scientists around the world are questioning the efficacy of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as potential treatments for COVID-19 after a recent research has shown that the drugs increase the risk of fatal heart complications, as The New York Times reported.


A small study in Brazil published online by medRxiv had to be cut short after patients taking high-doses of chloroquine to treat their COVID-19 symptoms started to develop heart arrhythmias. "Within three days of starting the drugs, researchers started noticing heart arrhythmias in patients taking the higher dose. By the sixth day of treatment, 11 patients had died, leading to an immediate end to the high-dose segment of the trial," The New York Times reported.

Hospitals in Sweden have been cautioned against using the drugs for COVID-19 and a consortium of American cardiology groups published guidelines for treating COVID-19 patients that urged doctors to be aware that the "antimalarial medication hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin are currently gaining attention as potential treatments for COVID-19, and each have potential serious implications for people with existing cardiovascular disease," according to a statement from The American Heart Association.

The evidence that the combination of the two drugs may increase risk of heart failure continues to mount after an analysis of international health records.

"Worryingly, significant risks are identified for combination users of HCQ+AZM even in the short-term as proposed for COVID19 management, with a 15-20 percent increased risk of angina/chest pain and heart failure, and a two-fold risk of cardiovascular mortality in the first month of treatment," said the report, according to Science Translational Medicine.

In France, where the initial buzz started about treating COVID-19 with a combination of antimalarial drugs and azithromycin, data released by the country's drug safety agency showed 43 cases of heart incidents linked to hydroxychloroquine, highlighting the risk of providing unproven treatments to COVID-19 patients, as The Hill reported.

"This initial assessment shows that the risks, in particular cardiovascular, associated with these treatments are very present and potentially increased in COVID-19 patients. Almost all of the declarations come from health establishments," the agency said. "These drugs should only be used in hospitals, under close medical supervision."

The myriad warnings fly in the face of President Trump's praise for the treatment. At a White House briefing on the global pandemic, Trump cited no evidence of its efficacy but called hydroxychloroquine a great and powerful drug and also praised azithromycin since it "will kill certain things that you don't want living within your body." He then urged people infected with the virus to try the treatment. "What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose?" He said, as CNN reported.

However, experts urged caution, including Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert who often appears at press conferences alongside Trump.

"We've got to be careful that we don't make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug," he said, as The Hill reported. "We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitely prove whether any intervention is truly safe and effective. We don't operate on how you feel, we operate on what evidence and data is."

Dr. Eric Stecker, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, the lead author on a paper from the American College of Cardiology that issued guidance for using hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, noted that many people don't know that they have the underlying heart issue that predisposes them to dangerous heart rhythms, according to The Intercept.

"In a better world, if we weren't so panicked about this virus, we would wait and see if this drug had some value other than the President declaring that it has some value," said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as CNN reported. "If someone's sick you can still hurt them."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Petri Oeschger / Moment / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Sleep is one of the pillars of optimal health.

Read More Show Less

Junjira Konsang / Pixabay

By Matt Casale

For many Americans across the country, staying home to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) means adapting to long-term telework for the first time. We're doing a lot more video conferencing and working out all the kinks that come along with it.

Read More Show Less
Looking south from New York City's Central Park. Ajay Suresh / Wikipedia / CC BY 4.0

By Richard leBrasseur

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered humans' relationship with natural landscapes in ways that may be long-lasting. One of its most direct effects on people's daily lives is reduced access to public parks.

Read More Show Less
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Minerals are key nutrients that your body requires to function. They affect various aspects of bodily function, such as growth, bone health, muscle contractions, fluid balance, and many other processes.

Read More Show Less
A young monk seal underwater in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. NOAA / PIFSC / HMSRP

By Tara Lohan

The Sargasso Sea, an area of the Atlantic Ocean between the Caribbean and Bermuda, has bedeviled sailors for centuries. Its namesake — sargassum, a type of free-floating seaweed — and notoriously calm winds have "trapped" countless mariners, including the crew of Christopher Columbus's Santa Maria.

Read More Show Less
Charlie Rogers / Moment / Getty Images

As the COVID-19 virus was spreading around the world, deforestation in the world's rainforests rose at an alarming rate, the German arm of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a study published on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

M_a_y_a / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Tonya Russell

A few years ago, my fiance and I got into an argument on our way to spend Christmas with my family.

As we drove through unfamiliar territory, we began to notice a lot of people who appeared to be without a home. This started to break up the tension as we turned our thoughts to this bigger issue.

Read More Show Less