A common over-the-counter heartburn drug can help ease the symptoms of people who have COVID-19, according to a new study spearheaded by researchers on Long Island.
Patients who took famotidine, the primary ingredient in Pepcid, saw symptoms such as breathing difficulties and abdominal pain as well as changes to smell and taste resolve more quickly than those who did not, according to the study by The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health in Manhasset and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
And another recent national study focused on veterans’ records showed those who had COVID-19 appeared to have an increased risk of cardiovascular problems for at least a year after diagnosis.
“Our study shows that the risk of incident cardiovascular disease extends well beyond the acute phase of COVID-19,” the authors wrote.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Researchers on Long Island have found famotidine, the primary ingredient in the heartburn medication Pepcid, can help ease the symptoms of people who have COVID-19.
- Experts said there is a need for additional treatments for COVID-19 patients who do not have access to expensive anti-viral drugs or infusions of monoclonal antibodies.
- The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decrease across New York. There were 3,583 new positive test results reported on Saturday – the lowest since Oct. 25, 2021.
The studies come as the medical community searches for varied treatments for COVID-19 patients while monitoring short- and long-term term impacts of the disease.
While the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decrease across New York, there were still 3,583 new positive test results reported on Saturday, including 217 in Nassau County and 219 in Suffolk County, according to state figures.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office in a statement said that was the lowest number of new positive cases since Oct. 25.
There were an additional 50 deaths, including two in Suffolk and two in Nassau.
“I am so proud of the hard work New Yorkers have put in this winter to get us past the omicron surge and put us on the pathway to normalcy,” Hochul said in a statement.
DAILY POSITIVITY RATE
7-DAY POSITIVITY RATE
Source: New York State Department of Health
The Feinstein / Cold Spring Harbor study was launched in January 2021, before the COVID-19 vaccination was widely available. It looked at 55 adult nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms who were not vaccinated. They were given either a placebo or 80 mg of famotidine to take three times a day for 14 days in a row.
The study was conducted virtually with each patient receiving a cellular-activated iPad, along with a Bluetooth-enabled scale, thermometer, fitness tracker, spirometer that studies air flow in and out of lungs and a pulse oximeter that measures blood oxygen levels.
Fifty percent of the patients who took famotidine had symptoms resolve in 8.2 days while it was 11.4 days for the placebo group. Those numbers jumped up to 90% after 27.1 days for people who took famotidine and 37.7 for those in the placebo group.
Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes, pointed out that famotidine is not an anti-viral drug, but one that prevents inflammation.
“Analysis of blood tests revealed famotidine also significantly reduced inflammation,” he said. “Overactive inflammation – called cytokine storms – are a hallmark of COVID-19, and the protection benefit from famotidine may be from preventing cytokine storm.”
Tracey said there is a need for additional treatments for COVID-19 patients who do not have access to expensive anti-viral drugs or infusions of monoclonal antibodies.
“The major conclusion from this Phase 2 clinical trial is that a larger Phase 3 trial is warranted to determine whether famotidine can be recommended as a future standard of care,” he said.
The cardiovascular risk study, published in Nature, examined 12 months of records from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Researchers compared records for more than 150,000 veterans who tested positive for COVID-19 with records from a separate uninfected group that used the VA health system before the pandemic in 2017 and a third uninfected group that used it during the pandemic.
They found higher rates of heart failure and stroke in those who had recovered from COVID-19 as compared with those who did not have the disease.
“It does not matter if you are young or old, it does not matter if you smoked, or you did not,” study co-author Ziyad Al-Aly at Washington University in St. Louis. Louis and the chief of research and development for the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, was quoted as saying in Nature. “The risk was there.”
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